dr-rev-joaquin-willis_web.jpgA good choice is the result of mental sharpness and practice. Leonardo da Vinci said, “Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and inaction saps the vigor of the mind.” 

When Christians make poor choices, they become rusty, stagnant, impure and weak.  But when we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, we remain clean, fluid, active, and able to discern the better risk or path to take.

In Isaiah 7: 1-16, King Ahaz, of Judah in Jerusalem, feared attack by the allied northern kingdom of Israel and Aram, the Assyrian leader.  Ahaz, contemplating an invasion and the end of his reign, decided to buy aid from the Assyrians, using silver and gold. Isaiah (7:15-16) predicts, “He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.” 

Ahaz made a “choice in conscience,” which appeared righteous.  Ahaz said that he “would not put God to the test,” and failed to ask God for help.  Ahaz instead solicited help from the Assyrians, who betrayed him.  How often do we “not want to bother God” by asking for His advice, with the subconscious thought, “It’s  O.K., Lord, I’ve got this?”  Soon enough, we find ourselves confessing to the sins of self-reliance and spiritual immaturity.

We are familiar with the stages of human development. Hebrews 5:12 states, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food.”  We are thus warned against making choices without studying God’s word. When we neglect Bible study, we deny ourselves the confirmation of God’s power of teaching through the Holy Spirit.

Many say, “I don’t need Bible study, I can read the word on my own.” Without the fresh perspective of other Christians, we are forced to rely upon our own limited view, and fail to grow in spiritual harmony.  The “Biblical Lone Ranger” often becomes self-righteous and judgmental, burdened with rusting, stagnant and impure thinking.

As we practice making good choices, we grow in our capacity to understand God’s call upon us.  Although Jesus cried out in the Garden, “let this cup of suffering pass from me,” He was prepared to make the right choice.  Christ suffered humiliation and died for us in order to do what God had willed.  He exemplified making the right choice. 

In times of hardship, we should reflect upon God’s choice for us, knowing that He wants us to grow.   

Making the right “choice in heart” is important. Christ knew God’s heart, and He kept God at the center of His own. Our capacity to make good choices is determined by the spiritual condition of our hearts.  

When it comes to “choice in conscience,” we must admit to our sins and our need for God. When it comes to “choice in mind,” we must submit to His will.  Through God’s guidance, we will always find the strength to make better choices in our lives.   

The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami.  To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at pastor@churchoftheopendoormiami.org.