Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Lifetime of Choices

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12-13 NIV)

For the past few months, I have been reading through the Old Testament. Currently, I am reading about the many kings of Israel and Judah.  One thing in particular has stood out—how many kings started out well and faithful to the Lord, but by the end of their lives, they had completely fallen away.  Kings like Solomon (I Kings 2-11), Asa, (II Chronicles 15-16) and Joash (II Chronicles 24) started out strong in following the Lord, but eventually turned away from Him.  Perhaps Paul had this history in mind when he wrote to the believers in Philippi.  

There is much resistance in the church to the idea that we must somehow work for our salvation, since Paul says elsewhere (Ephesians 2:8-9) that we are saved by grace, not by works.  The emphasis has been for a long time on the latter.  But how are we to interpret Paul’s words to the Philippians?  I think the history of the Jewish kings gives us a clue.

Following the Lord is not a one-time event, but a lifetime of choices.  We may be saved by grace, but it is our choices during our lives that are the evidence we have accepted or rejected it.  A number of the kings began their rule seeking to obey the Lord, but eventually began making the repeated choice to disobey Him.  Everyone during their lives makes choices to sin, but it is the repeated choice to disobey that becomes a pattern of disobedience and leads to a total separation from the Lord.  

Paul warns the Philippians, and us, to beware of the slippery slope of sin. If we rely on grace as a safety net, we might become so comfortable with our sin that eventually our choices will form a pattern of disobedience that permanently separates us from the Lord.  

Today, think about the choices you are making and examine them closely.  For the daily decisions you are making are forming a pattern in your life.  The question is: Is it a pattern of obedience or disobedience?  If it is the latter, take a lesson from the Jewish kings.  They started out faithful, but in the end were without the Lord.  That would be a terrible mistake to make.  

© Jim Musser 2013

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