Which Path Shall We Take in Life?
When God created people He blessed them and gave them the power, intelligence and ability to rule the earth. Here is how the Bible records it. “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created him: male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them. ‘Be fruitful and increase in number. Fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. …And God saw that all He had made was very good.” (Genesis 1:27-28, 31a)
So here we read in Genesis that God blesses and sends mankind out into a very good world to enjoy and flourish, to be parents and build families and loving communities, and to exercise dominion over the earth and over the earthly creatures; (Gen.2:15) –to care for but not exploit the earth or the earthly creatures.
We also read here that God created people in His image. And since God has free will, we who bear His image also have free will – and are free to make our own choices. We are God’s respected children, not His mechanical robots. God did not program us to automatically do what He wants, although He asks for us to do that throughout Scripture. And He asks for our love but He won’t force us to love Him.
God gives us the freedom to make our own choices- good or bad. Freedom to make Him glad or freedom to break His heart! We are free to be whatever we choose to be! And that’s where we can get into big trouble!
Along with freedom, the Bible has much to say about Gods’ blessings. It tells us that God, like a proud parent, delights in us and wants to bless us in the good work and endeavors that we choose. And of course He can withhold His blessing and be angry and grieved if we choose evil. Scripture says that He cares deeply about how we live our lives.
Like an earthly parent, the heavenly Father wants to give us good gifts. Scripture says: “If you parents, even though you have faults, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to you if you ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11) And “Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father …” (James 1:17a)
God invites us to pray to Him and ask for what we need and want. He promises to give us anything we ask for that is in His will. Of course He won’t answer our prayers if we ask for something that He knows won’t work together for good. He sees the bigger picture even though we may not understand. He speaks to us through Scripture: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds: and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7) And “Casting all your troubles on Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
And there is more! Because of Christ’s death, God gives us salvation, eternal life and forgiveness of our sins. And then He gives believers the Holy Spirit as their personal guide.
So what can I say? We have a wild and giving God! We are rich-we are spoiled-and we have it all! Abundance, pressed down and flowing over! We have been promised spiritual blessings that we can not begin to wrap our minds around. We will never be able to comprehend all that God has done for us! Scripture says: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into our imagination all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
So with all of this in mind; how shall we conduct our lives? How shall we use our freedom to choose the paths we take in life? Should having a loving God in our lives change the way we live? As always, the Bible has much to say about how God wants us to live.
When the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus gave them this answer. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-39)
Jesus is telling us here that love is the shinning star that needs to guide our lives. And all of Scripture backs that up. We can more easily obey the Ten Commandments if we live loving lives. We won’t break the commandment that commands us not to murder if we love God and our neighbor. And we won’t break God’s commandment and commit adultery or steal from our neighbor if we care about their welfare. Love says it all!
Paul preached to the Ephesians and told them how God would have them live. They were new Christians and Paul told them to put off their “old self and put on their new self.” (the new selves that we become in Christ) (Ephesians 4:22) They were to “put off falsehood and speak the truth.” (Eph. 4:25) He warned this new church against “hardening their hearts” (Eph.4:18) and against “indulging in impurity and lust”. (vs.19a)
The Ephesians were “not to allow unwholesome talk to come out of their mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up.” And they were not to “grieve the Holy Spirit”. (vs.29) And Paul instructed them to “get rid of bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Eph.4:31) Instead they were to “Be kind and compassionate to one another” and “forgive one another as Christ forgave them.” (vs.32) Paul encouraged the Ephesians to leave the darkness (sinful ways) and live in community “as children of the Light” (Eph.5:8)
It seems that everything has been provided for us to live a good productive life. If we have burdens that are too heavy or duties that cause us anxiety, all we have to do is ask God for help. Scripture says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) He is our provision.
God calls us to Himself but only we can answer that call. He knocks on the door but only we can open it. We can decide to follow Jesus or we can decide not to follow Him. And we can choose to be responsible or we can walk out on our responsibilities. We can take care of our children or we can skip out and leave them fatherless or (motherless). We can live just to entertain and pleasure ourselves or we can reach out and care for others. We can help the needy or we can turn our backs on the poor. The God who has created us and provided for us waits to see how we will choose – what we will do with the life that He has given us. So what will it be?