All of us had to “rip up roots” at one time or the other and make a choice whether we would obey God or man. For many of us, it changed the course of our lives forever. Through the years, hundreds of thousands of called out ones have chosen to obey God. However, the Christian life is filled with choices along the way. Moses called the children of Israel together and gave them this parting message, “See I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the Lord they God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passeth over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore CHOOSE life, that both thou and thy seed may live...” (Deut. 30:19).
Each of us will be judged by the choices we make. (2 Cor. 5:10). Some of the choices will only result in heartache, pain and suffering during this lifetime, while other choices can bring many years of blessings. On the other hand, some choices may affect our eternal life. What if Abraham had chosen NOT to obey God and refused to sacrifice Isaac? God would have found someone else to be the “father of many nations.” But, Abraham made the right choice. He believed God. He kept God’s commandments. He had faith in God. He did NOT COMPROMISE with God’s words or commands. Because of his choice, God said, “Now I KNOW that you will obey me.” God knew he would NEVER rebel against him, EVER, and will reward him with eternal life and a high position in his soon coming government on this earth. Conversely, Ananias and Sapphira sold a possession and “chose” to keep back part of the price. It cost them their lives. (Acts 5:1-2). In today’s standards their choice would have been considered the norm, or acceptable, particularly if decided by the Supreme Court. Their decision would be that “any reasonable person” would do the same. But, God does not judge as man does. Compromise is NOT an option!
When you are confronted with choices regarding information you are receiving from different sources, how can you know who or what to believe? Christ said, “Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Mat. 24:5). “...Yea, let God be true but every man a liar”. (Rom. 3:4). Christ said, “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life.” (John 14:6) There is only one source for the TRUTH, Jesus Christ, your saviour and mine. Let us let him show us how to make choices in our lives. You must be able to distinguish between the messenger and the message. There is a vast difference. To be of Christ, the message must be of the TRUTH and from Christ. True messengers of Christ WILL be following him.
Peter wrote, “...For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ suffered for us, leaving us an EXAMPLE that we should follow his steps. ”So, how did Christ walk (live his life)? Read on, “who did no sin, neither was guile (insidious cunning in obtaining a goal; deceit) found in his mouth: who when he was reviled (insulted or ridiculed) reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously...” (I Peter 2:21-23). Do you see the message Christ sent?
Peter certainly understood Christ’s message and patterned his teachings after what he had learned from Christ. What then, did he learn from Christ? He wrote, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” (I Peter 2:1-2). He continued… “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are therefore unto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: AND BE READY TO GIVE AN ANSWER TO EVERY MAN THAT ASKETH YOU a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” (I Peter 3: 8-18)
Luke wrote, “Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? And to what are they like”? Christ was constantly confronted by the Pharisees and Sadducees who were trying to trip him up or catch him in a lie. He was very perceptive and always left them confounded and confused with his answers. Not being able to handle the TRUTH, they reverted to another tactic. They attacked perceived weaknesses in his CHARACTER. They began malicious attacks on him. They called him a gluttonous man, and a winebibber. (Luke 7: 31-35). Some may have even hearkened to their words and turned away. However, many continued to follow him. His enemies had to look deeper, they needed more dirt, they needed something to prick the hearts of the people to make them turn from him. And then, they thought they had found it. “Then said they unto him (Christ), Where is your Father? Now, what do you think they meant by that? Christ responded by saying, “Ye neither know me, nor my Father...” (John 8:19)
On another confrontation they continued the same theme, Christ said, “...But now you seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the TRUTH, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father (Satan). Then said they unto him, “WE BE NOT BORN OF FORNICATION, we have one Father, even God”. (John 8:40:41). They could not deal with the TRUTH, so accused him of being illegitimate. Character assassination at its best! Adultery was frowned on by the Jews. They knew they could get the people stirred up with this. A master diversion technique for avoiding the truth Christ was preaching. Christ and his family lived with this stigma all their lives. Was it true? Absolutely Not! Did some of the people believe it? Yes, Unfortunately, for them! These were tactics of men who could not, who would not, accept the TRUTH of God.
The truth hurts! The truth reveals! As evidenced above, some men try to cover the truth with feigned words, half truths, and rumors . Through the years, many of God’s people have received letters, videos, telephone calls, emails, or personal visits from people who begin their conversation in a very positive way. But shortly, they attempt to divert the conversation by dropping hints, or making innuendoes that will eventually open the door to their intended message. Note this point well! When men attack other men, there is always a hidden agenda! The agenda may be presented in various ways. But the skilled conversationalist will continue the conversation until they find a “sore spot” with the listener. And then, when they determine what the “sore spot” is, they will begin driving their point home. Jesus said, “...Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? but those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man...” Christ was quick to deal with situations like this. He said, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”(Mat. 12: 34-37). If you are not careful, you will be taken in by a smooth talking “whisperer” of half-truths. Your first clue should be the incrimination of another person. The agenda may appear to be godly. Scriptures may be quoted. It may be slanted toward the good of the WORK or the organization. Surely, they may say, as a good Christian, you want to support the WORK, don’t you? You wouldn’t support anyone who is hurting the WORK, would you? Of course you wouldn’t. The choice seems clear. Is it?
Christ understood their motives and saw through their schemes quickly. You can too! One whole chapter (Mat. 23) is devoted to this group of people. He said in verses 5-6 “...But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at FEASTS, and the CHIEF SEATS in the synagogues...” Skipping on to verse 14, he said, “Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows houses, and for a pretence make long prayer:...” verse 27, “... Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisee, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness...” These men always had a hidden agenda. Their agenda, of course, was to maintain control of the people. To get them to follow them, they derided Christ and assassinated his character. Thus, causing the people to reject the TRUTH He presented them. The people looked at perceived character flaws in the messenger and refused to listen to his message.
If, after examining the information available to you, you are still in a quandary, go to your Bible. Read what Christ said in Mat. 7:13-20. Read it carefully, and prayerfully... “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” The fruits being spoken of here are the fruits of the Spirit. Most Christians can turn to Galatians 5:22-25 and quote the “fruits of the Spirit” from memory. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” There you have it from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The choice is simple. Follow Christ’s example. Christ exemplified the fruits of the Spirit in his life. Never once did he sin, nor was guile found in his mouth. He never attacked another human being. He spoke only the TRUTH.
Making choices is not always easy. Certainly, making a choice that may “rip up roots” is not. However, remember, that you, and you alone, are responsible for YOUR SALVATION. Christ said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me...” (Mat. 10:32-37). Making choices that affect our standing within our marriage, family or organization are most difficult. Human beings are gregarious. We need to be wanted and loved. Making the choice to obey God rather than man should be a simple one. Unfortunately, it is not. We get comfortable with our present status, and do not want to change. “Surely a little compromise won’t hurt?” we reason within ourselves. Yielding to that temptation can be “spiritually” deadly. Had Christ compromised one iota, you and I would still be in our sins. Christ always made the right choices. If we are to walk with Christ, we must make the right choices also, regardless of the consequences. That is why his admonition to Moses was, “therefore, CHOOSE LIFE, that you and your seed may live.” May this mind be in you, which was in Christ Jesus.