Every day of our lives we are confronted by choices. For those of us who are blessed to live in developed nations, the number of can be quite daunting. Want a cup of coffee? Will that be cappuccino, latte, short black, long white, cup, mug or demitasse, sugar or sweetener, milk or cream, or any other of a seemingly endless list of possibilities?
Whilst many of the choices demanded of us every day can be every bit as trivial as a cup of coffee, we should not allow their triviality or their sheer volume to distract us from the far more important choices which we also must make each day.
Deuteronomy 30:19 tells us, “Choose life, that you and your children may live.” Again, Joshua 24:15 says, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.”
Those two choices – which are really the same – are the most important we will ever make. God sets before us life and death. Life comes by following and obeying Him, death by rejecting Him and following other gods – including the great god self.
We have become accustomed to thinking of our decision for God as a one-off event. We came to Jesus, repented of our sins, and by faith accepted His death on our behalf and the forgiveness that was bought for us at such an awesome cost, and surrendered our life to Him.
All of that is wonderful, and necessary, but it is only the beginning. An athlete does not win an Olympic gold medal simply by deciding to run. That decision is important – without it he would never even begin toward his goal – but unless he follows it by a series of right choices, the medal will go to someone else. Our athlete must choose to get up and train instead of lazing in bed. He must choose to push his body just that little bit further when everything in him just wants to stop. He must choose to eat healthy food instead of hamburgers and ice cream. He must choose to curtail his social life so that his body gets sufficient rest to allow it to function at maximum capacity. His one large choice – to compete in the Olympics – will not get him over the line, but his daily small choices will.
It is the same with us. As the popular Christian song says, we have decided to follow Jesus. Our goal is not an Olympic medal, but the conformity to the image of Christ which is promised to us in His Word. Our big initial decision will start us toward our goal, but by itself it will not take us over the line. Now we must make all the daily small choices. We must choose to put God first, carving time for prayer and Bible reading out of our busy schedules before anything else. We must choose to become sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and to respond in obedience to the things He speaks to our heart. We must choose to die to our own ideas of what is right and wrong, and instead embrace the standards set out in the Word of God. We must choose to allow the Spirit of God to shape and mold us, even when the process is anything but comfortable.
By doing all these things we are not earning our salvation. That is God’s free grace-gift to us, paid for only by the blood of Jesus shed on our behalf. Rather, we are placing ourselves in the position where God can fulfill His purposes in our lives and transform us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). And that, after all, is the real purpose of salvation.
What about your choices? God tells us to choose life – that would seem to most people to be a very obvious choice. Yet the only way we can really choose life is by making those choices that lead to life. Have you made the initial choice to follow Jesus? Are you making the daily choices that give substance to that initial choice? If you have never made that choice, you might like to ask yourself, where will you spend eternity.