Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Choices and Consequences

I heard this quote at a youth rally and it's coming around and around again like the "Song That Never Ends"--but in a sobering way.

Pastor Dave Tebbencamp from Creston, IA said, "You get to make the choice, but you don't get to choose the consequences."

Let that sink in.

How often do we make choices based on a desired outcome? Yes, we reap what we sow, but it's not an earthly harvest--and the market price is out of our control. The outcome is not ours.

I can choose a presidential candidate, but that doesn't determine the outcome of the election. In teen life, certain clothes and actions don't seal my popularity. In grown up life, I can set my eyes on a lifestyle, relationship or state of being, but when the goal eludes me, I am disheartened, bitter, angry, confused, alone, frustrated, distraught.

And here's the driving factor: the choosing is in the wanting. I make choices based on what I want. And I measure success based on whether or not I get what I wanted.

If I want popularity above all else, it will result is unseen consequences. If I want a perfect marriage, a stunning home, a high-dollar income, I can make choices to attain it, but I don't get to choose the consequences. (Note to self: what do you really want in this moment?)

In John 9, Jesus put clay on the blind man's eyes and told him to wash in the pool of Siloam. He could have said, "That's stupid. Why would I do that?" Or, "Uch! What was that guy thinking, putting spit and mud on my face?!" But He trusted Jesus. What he did may not have made sense, but he obeyed. He made the choice to trust. God provided the consequence--sight, for the first time ever! God always produces, or provides, the consequence. "...whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life" (Galatians 6:7-8). It's not about earthly, material outcomes--it's about unseen ones. The things we don't often think or talk about.

If someone asked, we would agree that God's outcome--His consequences--are always the best, always for our good, always eternal. Pleasant or unpleasant, they are good (Romans 8:28-29; Hebrews 12:4-11). The problem is that we want to control the choices AND the consequences. We want the whole kit and kaboodle.

Honestly, there are times I don't like to make right choices. I can't and I won't. Praise God, He loves and helps me! But I must ask, trust, depend, and give up my "right" to determine the outcome. This diagram comes in handy when I have a decision to make and know the right choice, but am having a hard time getting there:

By God's grace, we can make the right choices and trust Him with the consequences--that's living by faith.

Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.

For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. (2 Corinthians 5:9-15)

...do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:7-14)

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