by Scarlett Stough
Choices; every day, we have choices to make. Some choices we make automatically, like grabbing our favorite cleaning outfit on house cleaning day. Some choices like, do I have toast and egg, or muffin and yogurt for breakfast?—not an earth shattering decision either way.
Some choices need some thought about the pros and cons of all the options; other choices are between what is right and what is not right, moral or ethical, but so tempting.
Does God's sovereignty mean we do not really have a choice? The Scriptures are full of admonitions to make good choices. These scriptures indicate we do have a choice. But where does God's sovereignty enter into these choices? The letter James wrote gives us an answer:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.
We are not puppets on God's strings; but he does have the authority, the power and the love to instruct us in making good choices. When we ignore his instructions, life can go horribly wrong. The Bible calls that “sin.” We usually try to avoid falling off cliffs because we know it is not good for us. But some forbidden attitudes and actions are so appealing to us in the moment we ignore the warning signs.
Making a choice to do business for a time in a particular city isn't sinful, the sin comes into play when we think it is all up to us, taking all the credit when it goes well, and blaming other people or circumstances for failure to achieve the goal we set. The sin comes in when we do not seek to know God's will or act on it when he shows us his will. We make choices, but God is the ultimate authority and source of the results.
How do we seek the will of God? The first place is building a relationship with God through trusting him, praying to him, and being obedient to his clear instructions. Where do we find his clear instructions? We find them written in the Scriptures—Old and New Testament writings. Being old does not make them obsolete. These ancient writings show us God's heart, his purpose, and his way of salvation and right living (2 Timothy 3:14-16).
Jesus taught us we should ask in our prayers for God's will to be done (Matthew 6:9-13). He also promised he would provide everything we need while we put seeking his kingdom and his righteousness as first priority in our choices and actions (Matthew 6:32-33).
James hints that this merchant's goal was making money, perhaps more than seeking God's will. Jesus warned us: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24). Let's choose to serve God by seeking and doing his will.