A story was told of a wise man in a little town that could answer any question. Many people consulted him for his wisdom and were usually glad they did. But a young lad felt the wise man was not as wise as was portrayed. The only way to prove that was to test him with a very difficult question. So the lad set out to contest the wisdom of the wise man. He said to himself, “I will catch a live bird and conceal it behind me. Then, I will ask the wise man, since he was very wise, to tell me if the bird was dead or alive. If he says, dead, then I will present it alive; but if he says, alive I will squeeze and kill the bird and present it dead. Either way, his answer would be wrong and that would mean the wise man was not as wise as claimed.”
The lad did get to the wise man and said to him, “Wise man, I have a bird in my hand, can you in your wisdom tell me if it is dead or alive?” The wise man reasoned it a moment, looked at the young boy and said, “Dead or alive, it is your choice.”
It is part of man’s privilege to make personal choices. In all matters of this life, whatever results you get out of life will be based on the choices you have made.
Man has a moral or ethical obligation in all things. You have the ability or will to choose right or wrong, good or bad. It is a right given to man by God from creation. Your choices are as powerful as you; because, each choice can either make or break you. When we are to make a choice between options, it is good to first consider questions like:
“Why do I want this?”
“What are my options?”
“What are the likely consequences of this choice?” Or,
“Which consequence or outcome will best serve my purpose or bring me to my desired haven?” You have to consider the short term and long term results of your choice, both here in this life and in eternity. In view of these you can take your decision knowing full well the result that would follow.
Whatever may possibly break or make any person must be very influential and it ought to be annexed with wisdom and precaution. The right to choices is freedom but it is one thing that has the power to make or break anyone. Choose wisely!
There are forces of influence which are either positive or negative that impels us constantly to make decisions that eventually bring hurt to us, our families and others, most especially, when we allow our emotions, pride or self-will to make us go against the will of God, godly counsel or wisdom from the matured.
The Biblical King David, like every other person, was once at crossroads when he needed to choose between three odd options, and none was without sore consequences, considering the fact that they were the result of a wrong choice he had made earlier to number the army of Israel despite divine caution. “Go and tell David,” God sent a prophet to the then king of Israel; “’this is what the Lord says: I’m offering you three choices. Choose the one you want me to do to you… Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or shall you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ plague in your land?” (2 Samuel 24:12-13). Let us consider the first option David was faced with:
First, there was to be a national famine or paucity of food across the land. This option would result in “seven years of famine”. Famine is not a good thing. It is an extreme scarcity of food that brings starvation, sicknesses and death to the most vulnerable, especially children and the elderly. We know that famine can be artificial especially when caused by man’s own laziness.
The lazy will surely suffer extreme famine in life, and this is not due to demonic bewitchment. As the Bible says, “an idle person will suffer hunger” (Proverbs 19:15).
Famine can also be caused when wicked people hoard essential supplies for selfish reasons. Such act is evil and attracts curses. “The people will curse him who withholds grain, But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it” (Proverbs 11:26). Those who create artificial scarcity of vital food supply are not just cursed by the people; they can never be blessed by God.
In David’s case, the option of famine on the land was to be God’s judgment because of David’s sin. To sin is your choice; but the consequence of sin is not in your power. I agree that there are situations where one could suffer from the consequences of the sins of others, with one not having the power to do anything or change the situation. This is why even the righteous sometimes suffer along with others if an organisation fails to make progress because of the actions or inactions of certain people. Your best option in such cases is to learn how to accept what had happened and develop a coping tactic to deal with it. I like the way Maya Angelou puts it; he said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
You cannot do anything about the rains in its season but you can get an umbrella, a rain coat, or stay in a shelter or plan round it to achieve your goals than to be irritated and do nothing. Bear in mind, though; when you accept what you cannot change it does not mean you quit, or you are defeated, nor do you relapse into inaction. It simply means a change of attitude towards the situation as you continue to advance in spite of accepting that there are things beyond your control.
Therefore, beyond the act of God’s judgment, like the case of David, nature has a lot of things you cannot change or control. Here are few things you cannot change:
Origin: Take a man in the Bible by the name Jephthah, for instance. He was a warrior but the son of a prostitute. That was something about his origin he could do nothing to change. He was thrown out with no share in the family inheritance due to this. There was nothing he could do about the situation around his birth or his mother. I like what Jephthah did though. He focused on his inherent ability and improved his fighting skills in war. That made him a warrior. His origin did not matter anymore.
Life is a privilege, not a right. In life some people are more privileged than others, but that does not make them superior or inferior to anyone. You cannot change your origin. If you are black, you are black; if white, you are white. Also, the circumstance in which you were born, rich or poor, is only a part of your history; but you can choose to live a fulfilled life. You were born for a purpose. Your purpose is what you can become if you are determined. You might have to go the extra mile than others, but it is up to you to use what you might perceive as weakness, shame or a loss to make it work for you. If you are going to rewrite your story and end well, then you need to have a healthy relationship with the God of glory – the Originator of all things.
The Past: You cannot deny or change the past. Denial is when you refuse to accept that it truly happened, or you refuse to accept your fault, and attempt to counter it with lies and deceit. Denial is allowing such bad and dangerous behaviours as jealousy, pride and ego to becloud your past life. There is nothing wrong when one accepts that one had been wrong, and then move on. In every saint were a past forgiven and a new beginning in Christ; just as in every sinner is a future of forgiveness and a new life in Christ.
A saint was once a sinner and a sinner today can become a saint tomorrow. The future starts when you stop denying your wrongs, and come to Jesus Christ confessing your sin to receive forgiveness by faith. Thereafter, your past is gone and you cannot get it back; only the memories of how well you used it to become a better person that will ultimately count. Take the example of people like Jephthah, Ruth, Rahab, Peter and the previously notorious one, Paul, who persecuted the church (1 Timothy 1:12-15). They all had a bad past. But they all turned out well despite their bad past. The period that matters starts from today onward. You have today and the future; keep moving and make the most of what you have as God enables you.
Your Time: You cannot bring back the time wasted but you can make the most of today. The death of my father at 76, on the 9th of March, 2017, reminded me that time is temporary, and running out fast. The Scriptures, as well as life generally, remind us that the years are passing fast, and death will one day arrive and we go into eternity. This truth leaves us with two crucial questions. First, Am I ready to meet God at life’s end, having trusted Christ as my Saviour? Then second, am I using my transient days to please the One who loves me eternally?
You are not going to live forever here on earth; time is very short compared to eternity. Eternity with God is granted only in Christ. Make peace with God now. While you push yourself so hard to achieve success and comfort, remember there is eternity with the God of all comfort. You cannot change time but use it wisely to make the most of life.
The People: It is only God that has the power to change any man. Quit wasting your time trying to change people and to be someone you are not, just to win people. Life is not a competition with others. I have come to accept that you cannot change what people think about you; you cannot make anyone to like, love or forgive you if they do not want to. More so, you cannot earn their respect if they are not willing to give it. Therefore, trying to please people at the expense of your relationship with God and those who value you is unwise. Focus on the people God has divinely sent into your life to help fulfil purpose.
It is also wise to be content with who you are or what you have per time. For you cannot change the truth that you will always meet people that have more or better things than you have, like a bigger house, finer car, greater business, more money etc. Jesus said, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). Trying to have what others have that you cannot presently afford can lead you into wrong choices, of course with fatal consequences.
To be continued.