We live with the consequences of our choices, don’t we? Whether for good or ill, we make our beds and then lie in them.
Erich Fromm’s comment on relationship makes the same point: “Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.”
So what do you choose? How do you decide?
The Bible –like life itself– is full of these moments of choosing. Choose today whom you will serve. Repent and believe.
A classic choice- moment headlines the book of Psalms. My Bible titles Psalm 1: “The Two Ways.”
Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers…
Here we have both choice and consequence, in elegantly phrased picture-language. And here’s the prophet Micah’s take on the same point
Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said. Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. Amos 5:14-15
Pretty clear. Choose good so that you might live.
But it’s not just a matter of personal insurance, like your own one-man fire-escape from the horrors of hell. Your personal choices have knock-on effects on your family, your society, your world.
If I choose to develop an innocent fondness for a glass of wine until it becomes an embedded habit of expensive alcoholism, the cost will be borne not only by me but by my wife, my marriage, my children… And who knows where the chain of consequence stops?
Amos is intentional about the business of choosing. It’s not just choosing the good, but hating the evil. Anyone who has witnessed the havoc caused by the wrong choices made by a leader in a community,-be it a politician, pastor or any such, – well, there’s a sad trail of brokenness and hurt for everyone.
There has to be an active choice for integrity. Hate evil and love good.
And private choice has public consequence: And establish justice in the gate. The “gate” of the city was where justice was dealt out in ancient Israelite society. It’s where they discussed and dealt with issues of fair trading, honest scales, market practices and all the nitty gritty of social intercourse.
So we’re not just talking personal choices now, but public accountability.
And it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
That is to say: Our whole society needs the grace of God. Don’t you know it?
It’s quite diffident, isn’t it? Maybe he will be gracious, if we just start in on our personal life-choices in a God-respecting way.
And the result? It’s so that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you. We are promised the ongoing presence of God. But not only so. God is carefully named the Lord, the God of hosts. It’s a powerful phrase that sums up might, authority and the limitless resources of God’s “hosts.”
Make your private choice, and the public consequences will be incredible.
So choose well.