Jerry Duncan, guest writer
Making bad choices in life is a given. It is not about whether I will. It is about when I will, and what I will do when I become aware of it.
How I think about my bad choices will determine my feelings and my behavior that follows.
One of my options will be to think that God is disappointed in me and that I should be ashamed of myself. If I believe this, I will feel shame and hide from God like Adam did when he defied God’s wishes for him and Eve in the garden.
If I focus too much on the “God is so disappointed in me,” I can easily end up believing that I can never be a “usable vessel” to God. I may still believe that I will go to Heaven when I die, but I will enter by “the skin of my teeth” and never hear those words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” I will wander through the rest of my life never attentive to the ongoing opportunities in front of me every day. I will just wait for death and anticipate crawling through the pearly gates with my head down, anticipating my inevitable “tongue lashing.”
I also have the option of ignoring or minimizing my bad choices and thinking, “It’s not that big of a deal.” Our bad choices do matter. It is called a “bad choice” because it hurts someone. It may hurt me. It may hurt someone else. And it might even hurt the way someone looks at God. If we have professed to be a follower of Jesus, others may look at our behavior and wonder whether or not being a Jesus-follower really makes a difference in a person’s life. Our choices matter.
Take a moment, if you would, and consider how a good parent or grandparent treats a child or grandchild when he/she makes a bad choice. Usually, that bad choice has been preceded with some kind of instruction or warning. The instruction or warning is given out of love and concern. It is based on a wish to protect, or a desire to teach some behavior that will have long-term positive consequences for that child.
When the bad choice is made by the child and then discovered by the adult, the healthy adult uses it as an opportunity to show the child why they were warned in the first place so that it becomes a learning experience. If the child feels shame or fear, the healthy adult is quick to let the child know he/she is still loved and worthwhile. It is made clear that it is an act of love for the adult to do whatever it takes to help this loved child learn to make good choices.
God sees those who choose to follow Him as fully forgiven children who need His help in making good choices. He is willing to give that help.
He gives us instruction in black and white (the Bible). And, he promises to speak to us from within to remind us if we will just listen. He even promises to help us do the good behavior He is prompting. Take a look at Philippians 2:13 —“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
Our bad choices are not a reflection of who we really are. Our bad choices are an event to learn from. If we have hurt someone else with our bad choice, we take responsibility for it, and make amends if we can.
How you decide to think about your bad choices will have significant consequences. Knowing and thinking the truth has always been difficult for mankind.
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” — Proverbs 23:7