January 19, 2006 • By Ed Wrather01.19.06
…so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. - Acts 24:14b-16.
Have you noticed how some people continually have a difficult time making good choices in life? Two men in Reseda, California made an especially bad choice when they were picking out a car to carjack. The car they chose was occupied by two FBI agents on a stakeout. One of the carjackers was killed and the other wounded. Then there were the four men who robbed a bank in Georgia. After they made it outside with the money, they hurried to a U-Haul moving van to make their escape. That was another poor choice on top of the terrible choice of robbing a bank! They were quickly caught and arrested.
The examples above are extreme but why do people make poor choices. Two men that I went to school with, one the same age as me and one a year older have both been in prison for robbery. One man robbed a bank and the other has robbed several convenience stores. They appeared to be as normal as everyone else when they were younger. Perhaps a better question is why I still make the poor choices that I do and why you sometimes do the same.
We can look at the life of the apostle Paul, after his encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus, and see an example of a life of good choices. Paul tells the governor Felix that, “I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” I think here we see why Paul continually made good choices and we see how we can too.
The apostle Paul did not make a single good choice in his life but a string of good choices. His encounter with Jesus Christ was the beginning of right decisions and from that choice flowed more. Paul says he “always” strived to keep his conscience in good condition. He did this and we can do this only step by step as we walk with our Lord. Each decision builds upon previous decisions whether they were good or bad. If we have a continual chain of wise decisions, it is much more likely that our next decision will be wiser still. If we have a continual chain of poor decisions, it is very likely that our next choice will be even worse than the one before.
I think we can expand this to say that with each wise choice it becomes easier to make more wise choices. I think it is also clear that with each poor choice it becomes easier to make more poor choices. Whether we make a little decision or a big decision, it is vitally important to the maintenance of our conscience and our right relationship with God.
What do you do if you have been making a string of bad choices, bad decisions? You cannot go back and change what you have done but you can begin to strive as the apostle Paul did to make each decision a good one. If you are a Christian 1 John 1:9 is always a good starting point. If you are not a Christian, you need to have a Damascus Road encounter like that of Paul coming to know Jesus as your personal Savior. Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me (Revelation 3:20).” Ask Jesus to come into your life, to forgive you of your sins, the bad decisions you have made, and be your Savior and Lord.
Let us go forth today and strive to make good choices.