SUMMARY: All the great spiritual champions I know make great choices. Why? Because they understand the law of first choice, which is a law that we often forget. In this Resolute Podcast, Vince Miller discuss how the choices we make live by a law of consequences and that they have both immediate and ongoing consequences.
RESOLUTE STUDY GUIDE: CHOICES
All the great spiritual champions I know make great choices. Why? Because they understand what I call the law of first choice, which is a law that we often forget. The law of first choice is, understanding that when you make a single choice you also must make all the subsequent choices that go with that first choice. Sometime we learn the lesson of this law the hard way.
Today we are focusing our discussion on Romans 6:23. This is a well know text of the Bible. The verse reads,
“For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.
I want to focus on a couple of words here which are critical to observe in this text. First, the word “wage.” A wage is something you earn; it is a consequence of the choice we make to work. At our place of business, we consequently earn a wage, and this wage is due based on our work behaviors. And while a wage is one of our many motivations for working, per this verse, the wage we have earned is shocking. The second word to notice is the word “death.” Death is the wage. And it may not be the wage we want, but we have consequently earned it per this text. So, let’s put these two words and ideas together. We have made our first choice and this choice; sin. With our choice to sin we earn all the subsequent choices, in this case death. And this is not just physical death, we have consequently earned two types of death; one physical and one spiritual. The consequential salary of sin is indeed great.
In the Bible, someone who is labeled a fool is spiritually misaligned and therefore makes choices without thought to the consequences. Often we describe someone as a fool by the foolish choices he makes. But the title fool is more descriptive about the spirit of the man – exhibited through his choices. This title does not describe his educational ability or wealth because a man can have these attributes and still be a fool. As can a man who is uneducated and poor can be very unfoolish. Fools simply do not connect immediate actions to long-term spiritual consequences.
As humans, we make a series of choices that lead to resultant choices. It is how we choose that defines us as either wise or foolish.
Maybe a couple of illustrations here would help. If you stop a driver who is seriously inebriated and ask him if he would like to kill another person or himself, he will probably answer with a slurred “no.” However, the choice to drink and drive is choice that has a high statistical probability of killing someone. While the drunk driver will declare that he does not want to kill someone, his choice to drink and drive is choice that has high probability of leading to this consequence. Therefore, we would say the driver was foolish to do so, especially since he has culpable knowledge of this fact. While the driver may explain that they were just having fun, or wanted to head home for the evening, the choice to drink and then drive is a choice that has a high probability of life threatening consequence. Therefore, choices that ignore potential consequence is a choice to be foolish. So, men don’t make foolish choices.
We could also apply the law of first choice to our purchasing habits. The choice to have something now that we cannot afford, leads to the choice to use a form of credit which is a foolish choice since this leads to the subsequent choice of becoming slave to a lender.
We can also apply this law of first choice to sexual choices, friendship choices, careers choices, and entertainment choices. Short sightedness can often lead to a foolish choice.
My point is that every choice we make has a consequence. Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:31 said, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This is a statement of wisdom that teaches us regardless of what we do, we should think about the consequence of the law of first choice and ensure that we are thinking ahead to the spiritual consequence. Jesus also encourages us to consider the choices and thus consequences in Luke 14:28, he says, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Jesus’ point is to plan and think about the consequence of our decisions.
But let’s look also at the positive side of the law of first choice. Our wise choices lead to positive consequences, especially those in line with God’s truth. We often experience the truth of this in the decision we make to follow Christ. When we come to Christ, we have often “come to our senses” as Jesus says in the story of the Prodigal Son, and connected our choices to the immediate consequences and eternal ramifications. This pivotal moment is where were we project the results of our decisions forward. And often when we connect the two we have a moment of enlightenment in our life.
So here a little story for you that describes the impact of the law of first choice.
When I was a kid, I was living with my grandparents, and we had a couple of neighbors named Hi and Lola Hendricks. I know don’t laugh. They lived about 4 houses down the street from my grandparent’s home and were good friends of the family for many years. One day my grandmother noted at the dinner table that she had not heard from them in over a week, and recommended that grandpa and I go down to check on them after dinner. So, after dinner we went to their house to check out the situation. We went to the front door and knocked and while waiting we heard someone tooling around in the house. But no one came to the door. Obviously, something was awry, and my grandfather speculated he heard Lola talking in the home. So my grandfather instructed me to head home and get their garage door opener, and we would check out the scene. I ran home and quickly made my way back. We entered through the garage but we could not enter the house since the staircase into the home was locked from the inside. But again, we both heard someone walking around the home. Finally, we came out to the front of the house and looked up toward the bedroom window and noticed the window was covered in hundreds of flies. And immediately we knew we had to call the police.
As they arrived, they attempted to enter the home. And after a few minutes of deriving the same conclusion as us they kicked in the door. When they did my grandfather and I were standing on the sidewalk outside of the home. As soon as the front door was kicked in, we watched as the officer at the door fell to the ground and passed out from the stench coming from inside the home. I remember standing on the street and dry heaving from the intensity of the odor. It was overwhelming. Two fire-fighters on the scene entered the home breathing apparatuses, found Lola had locked herself in her room, and after much convincing discovered Hi Hendricks dead in bed and had been there over a week and discovered that Lola Hendricks had been sleeping with him for over a week. She was politely removed and placed in mental care for the duration of her life, which was about another year.
Over the next year my grandfather cared for their property. Since we lived in California, he left all the windows open on their home just to air out the stench. For the first three months, driving past their home was horrific, the smell was almost intolerable with the window down. But over the course of a year the odor slowly faded. But my memory of the event did not.
Every time I think about the ongoing consequence and stench of sin, I think of this moment. Death and sin have both an immediate physical consequence and ongoing spiritual consequence. It is the consequences that we must live with when it comes to the law of first choice.
So today gentlemen, I would challenge you to think through the consequences, or the stench/odor/smell, of all your choices. Your choices might have far reaching consequences that sometimes cannot be undone. So, with the choices you will make at work, in your home, and in your private life, consider them carefully today, because it all begins with a single choice. And spiritual champions know how to make great choices.