Choices

Have you ever stopped to think about happiness, love, and forgiveness? These are all great attributes, characteristics…qualities to have. And they are all commands in the Word of Yahweh. And……they are all choices, just like every command that Yahweh gives us.

That’s what I want to talk about in this post: the choice to forgive, the choice to love, and the choice to be happy. In a world where we have so little control, isn’t it comforting to know that we have choices for these wonderful things? What do I mean we have so little control? Well, when I finally woke up to the fact that there is only one aspect of my life that I have control over, it changed my whole outlook. You see, none of us has any control whatsoever about the circumstances around us, what someone else says to us, what someone else does to us…the only control we have is the choice of how we will respond to those events, words, and actions. Yes, we control our response.

Happiness is a command…and choice. Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says, “Rejoice always!” When the storms of life arise and our circumstances are not what we think they should be, we can choose to be swallowed by despair and self-pity or we can choose to rejoice in the Lord because as believers, we know He has our best interest at heart. Romans 5:3-5 says, “And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” The choice is ours.

Love is a command…and a choice. Matthew 22:37-39 reiterates the commands of old, “He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” We are commanded to love God, and love our neighbor. We have a choice to love God by following His commandments (John 14:15, John 14:21, 2 John 2:6), or we can make the choice to say we love Him by following the traditions and commandments of men, or we can choose not to love Him at all. The choice is ours to make. We also make the choice to walk in love with our fellow man and walk in the fruit of the spirit or we can choose to walk in fruit of the flesh towards each other. In each of these areas, we have choices: one is biblical and honors the Most High God and leads to life; the other choice is contrary to scripture and dishonors the Most High God and leads to death. The choice is ours.

Forgiveness is a command…and a choice. Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.” We have choices to make. We can make a conscious choice to forgive one another and move on, or we can choose to hang onto an offense and risk having a root of bitterness spring up harming ourselves. The choice is ours.

“But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. Be merciful, just as your Father is also merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.—Luke 6:27-38

Let’s make the choice today and every day to love one another, forgive one another, and rejoice always in all circumstances.

Lip Service

As my husband and I were reading Matthew 22 together this morning, verses 34-40 caught my attention. “But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” So I got to pondering…what does it mean to love the Lord? A lot of people profess to “love the Lord”. But…what does that mean? As I was praying about it, the verse in John 14:15 was impressed on me. “If you love Me, obey My commandments.” So there is action involved…love is a verb. God wants us to show our love for Him by obeying His commandments.

In the past, I used to pay the Lord “lip service”. I would tell Him I loved Him with my words, but my actions didn’t always show it. I was a member of the Matthew 15:8 club, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” How many of us today still do the same thing…tell Yahveh we love Him and then go and live as we please? Then Yahveh reminded me what it feels like to be told that you are loved when the actions didn’t always match the words. In my first marriage, I would be told, “I love you” and then be called horrible names and be physically abused. The words didn’t match the actions…and actions definitely speak louder than words. 

Praise Yahveh!!! I have been delivered from the Matthew 15:8 club, both giving “lip service” and receiving it!!! As the veil has been lifted and my eyes opened to the whole word of God, I can honestly say that I do love the Lord with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my mind. I am obeying God’s commandments because I love Him. “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.” (2 John 6)

Let’s revoke our membership in the Matthew 15:8 club and stop paying Yahveh and each other “lip service”. Let’s start truly loving Yahveh and one another, not just in word, but in deed also, not the way the world loves, but as we are commanded to in the Bible…by obedience (which is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22))…by loving as Christ has loved us (John 13:34-35)…by being devoted to and giving preference to one another (Romans 12:10)…by esteeming one another (Philippians 2:3). Let’s love according to Yahveh’s way, not man’s.