Life is so full of choices, especially for most people in this country. I understand there are millions around the world who have almost no choices at all, but that is for another day. If you are an adult living in middle to upper-class America today, there are almost endless choices to make every day.
Dress up or casual
Accessorize or plain and simple
Hair up or down
Warm coat or light jacket
Cereal at home or bagel at the coffee shop
Coffee, tea, latte, cappuccino, espresso…
Car or bus
Music or audiobook
Email or phone call or text
Lunch with friends or work through at your desk
Pick up take-out or cook at home
Comedy or drama
Go for a walk or read a book
Help with homework or watch TV
Avoid the gossip or jump right in
Notice the good or complain about the bad
Be patient or let them have it
Be angry or be forgiving
Drive defensively or drive aggressively
Raise your voice or bite your tongue
The list could be virtually endless. Some choices are perfectly harmless, while others hold the power of determining the quality of our lives and those around us. We make most of our decisions without really giving them much thought. We simply do what we want to do or what best serves the present situation. But we can’t have it both ways. In order to choose one thing, we must usually forfeit another.
Life works that way in regard to spiritual matters, as well. Jesus’s parables and teachings are often framed as choices we must make.
We can worry or we can trust.
We can build our lives on His truth or we can build on shifting sand.
We can seek attention or we can seek God.
We can be humble or we can be proud.
We can bless others or we can curse others.
We can repent or we can remain in our sins.
Ultimately, in order to be His child, we must turn from our sins and from running our own lives and let Him be the Master. When we follow Him with our whole heart there is a new life that opens before us. A life filled with goodness, light, peace, and unfolding grace upon grace. We set our minds on things above rather than the things of this world, and the new list of options available to us is full of gifts and fruits of His Spirit. We leave behind anger, dispute, envy, and impurity, and our new “above” life can grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, humility, prayer, gratitude, and even suffering.
This new list isn’t one that only gives us the option of choosing between these qualities. We can look at this list and check the box that says “All of the above”. All of these gifts and many more are ours because they are the essence of Christ Himself who lives in us by the Holy Spirit. There is no longer the need to forfeit one thing on the list in order to have another. He gives us all of Himself to meet every need of our lives and hearts.
As we forfeit our way, our self-rule, and embrace His, we are freed from the tyranny of our small perspective and selfish outlook into the wide-open spaces of the life from above filled with grace, glory, and honor. Let’s leave the old behind and seek all of the above.
Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5-7; Galatians 5:19-26; Colossians 3:1-17