Decisions and Choices
by Frank Brancato
In the day in which we live, the Christian is faced with perhaps more distractions than ever before. Business, social activities, and recreation compete for our time and energy. The day in which assembling with the saints every time the doors are opened seems to be a thing of the past. It appears to be a common occurrence throughout the brotherhood, that we have a Sunday morning crowd, a smaller Sunday evening crowd, and an even smaller crowd for Wednesday evening services. It has become quite a challenge to get the majority of our members to support our scheduled Gospel meetings. So we ask ourselves what has changed? The answer is quite simple, even though many give complex explanations. And that answer is that we have simply made the conscious choice to do “other things”. Jesus said in Matthew six and verse twenty-one, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” And, so, the decisions that we make are directly connected to our priorities and our values.
OUR DAILY DECISIONS
A great part of our life is making decisions. Some of these decisions are those that one would consider to be “big and life changing”. For example, the day that we decided to obey the Gospel was the most important day of our lives. This was the day that we obtained the hope of salvation. Another “life changing” decision that we make is deciding who we will spend the rest of our lives with. Are we going to choose a person that has worldly values? Or, are we going to choose someone who will help us get to Heaven? But what we often fail to realize is that the majority of the decisions that we will make in our lives are not considered to be “big and life changing”. I’m talking about the “little daily decisions” that we may not consider very important. But I believe that these are the decisions that shape us, and determine who we really are. We must always remember that once we obey the Gospel, our lives have just begun. Our lives become a journey that is filled with decisions that will determine our eternal destination.
THE LORD MUST BE FIRST
Before the church was established in Acts chapter two, Jesus often used the parabolic method of teaching. In these, Jesus would “lay alongside” something the people knew about with something that they would not have understood had he not done so. In these parables, Jesus tells us that he must be first in our lives. That if anything is more important than the Kingdom (church), we cannot go to heaven. In Luke chapter fourteen, we find that Jesus had been preaching to the multitudes about the Kingdom. Then he turns to them and said beginning in verse twenty six, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Now obviously, Jesus did not mean that we must have hatred for those who are the closest to us, but that we must “love them less” than we love Jesus. What would have been your response if you had been standing in the presence of the King when he said those words? Would you have said, “The price is too much?” Or, would you have been one who was willing to follow Jesus regardless of the cost? Would you have been like the one who found the “Pearl of Great Price” who was willing to sell all that he had in order to obtain it? Would you have been like the one who found a treasure in a field and went and sold all that he had to purchase the field in order to have that treasure? Or would you have been like those excuse makers that were just too busy to attend the “Great Supper”? I believe that this question is much needed and very timely today because, if we by our actions are too busy for the Lord now, we would have been too busy then. We all must remember that Jesus taught that only the “best” decisions will do. For example, playing in a sporting event or participating in other forms of wholesome entertainment are certainly not wrong in itself. But deciding to play or participate in such activities at the expense of attending the services of the church, is not putting the Lord first. To say that we love Jesus, and then take our Christianity in “capsule form”, to be administered in “Sunday morning doses”, is not loving Him.
COUNTING THE COST
In Luke chapter fourteen and verse twenty-eight Jesus said, “For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, this man began to build, and was not able to finish.” When Jesus said “whosoever”, he meant anyone. Jesus here uses the example of building a tower where he teaches them and us that we must first sit down and count the cost to determine if we are going to have enough to finish it. Jesus clearly was teaching us that we must have some contemplation of completion. How sad it is though when we see so many Christians who began to build but didn’t finish. Jesus was not looking for people who were willing to “head in his direction at their own pace”, he was looking for those who would forsake all if necessary to follow him. Jesus clearly taught that to be a disciple meant more than simply walking behind him. And today, just because we assemble together does not mean that we are the Christians that we ought to be. Jesus is looking for those who have sat down, counted the cost, and are able to say, “I am able to finish.”
It is true that it may cost Christians everything to follow Jesus. It may cost our friends and even our family. But it will cost us so much more not to follow him. It will cost us our soul. We must always remember that the decisions and choices that we make are shaping who we really are. And, so, we ask the question, “Is the Lord really number one in our lives?” Our daily decisions determine the answer. The words of Eleanor Roosevelt ring true: “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”