”I left for work this morning at 7am as usual when I collided straight into a bus. The bus was 5 minutes early.” (Clearly the bus’s fault!)
”I knew the dog was possessive about the car but I would not have asked her to drive it if I had thought there was any risk.” (How could he have known?)
”The accident happened because I had one eye on the truck in front, one eye on the pedestrian, and the other on the car behind.” (Clearly God’s fault – more eyes needed!)
”No one was to blame for the accident but it would never have happened if the other driver had been alert.”
We live in a culture of blame instead of personal responsibility. The Bible is different in that it very much supports personal responsibility for the choices and decisions we make.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”
Let’s look at the impact of faith on the choices we make from the example of Moses and his parents. The common thread in Hebrews 11 is that they made certain choices because of faith. “It was by faith...”
1. Faith chooses courageouslyFaith chooses courageously, makes brave choices, it doesn’t give in to fear. Moses’ parents could have reasoned, as did most other parents at that time that it would be better to play it safe, the child would be sacrificed so that the rest of the family would survive. To keep the child endangered the whole family. But they believed that he was a special child for whom God had a great purpose and did not give in to fear and defied the king’s decree. That was a risk. It was a brave choice; their faith led them to make it.
What about us in our lives, when was the last time we stepped out in faith and did something risky, challenging or just different? Sooner or later faith will mean having to do something that will challenge us, something that is different, even if that is just speaking to someone about Jesus, or becoming a Christian, or tithing,taking up a position of leadership within the Church or making yourself available to be part of a team in mission work, even helping a neighbour. What will you do to get out of your comfort zone?
What Moses’ parents did not do was give in to fear. Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear – Mark Twain. Sometimes we are afraid, being afraid is not a reason not to do something – if it’s the right thing DO IT SCARED! The more you do it the less scary it gets. When I started with Vision Radio, I suddenly found myself out of my comfort zone - being challenged to ask people for help, resources, and finding sites. I often felt scared and sometimes still do but courage is doing it scared. So now I do what I need to do and obey God and leave the consequences to Him. Whatever it is, making the decision to become a Christian, stepping into a new area, job, speaking out etc. Perhaps it is time to take a step of faith, a bold and courageous step.
2. Faith chooses the right way not the easy way (C/Ref Hebrews 11:24)
This is true of Moses and his parents, but it is Moses who exemplifies it in particular in the way he chose to be identified with his suffering people rather than as a prince. He had been a prince of Egypt for about 40 years. There was an easy path and a much harder one – he chose the road less travelled. There is relevance here to the fundamental decision about becoming a Christian or not. Jesus spoke about the broad road and the narrow one. Many people find the broad road, less the narrow – but it is this one that leads to life. Faith chooses the right way, even though less people choose it. Sometimes that means choosing the path of honesty even if that costs us, of integrity, of faithfulness etc. It may be easier to lie, to cheat, and to clamber over other people – but it is not right. When you have faith in God you do what is right even if it disadvantages you because you know God is looking on and is pleased.
Some people think that faith means always commanding mountains to be moved. However often many people are praying for mountains of difficulty to be removed, when what they really need is the courage to climb them. Is that true of us? Paul struggled with this with his famous thorn in the flesh. He had seen mountains moved, amazing miracles take place. He wanted rid of this troublesome thorn (whatever it was), but God said no, my grace is sufficient, you’ll have my help so just deal with it and get on with it. In that case faith was in climbing the mountain not removing it. Removal would have been easy, living with it was harder.
3. Faith takes a long term view of things and chooses accordingly.
When a leader has to make a difficult decision sometimes they choose a path which is not popular or may even be frowned upon. Faith means when making a decision, you look at the long-term implications. There is in our culture today an attitude of just live for the moment and whilst there is wisdom in living one day at a time only living for today is mistaken. Faith means we believe that there is a future, that God has a plan, that heaven is real and that affects our choices in life. Ultimately we know we will stand before God one day – that affects our choices. We know that God wants us to use our lives for good and God, which affects the choices we make. Some people have to make decisions – I encourage you to let faith affect your choices, ask God to be part of the equation, what will please him, what will make a bigger difference to the kingdom of God? Make up the numbers or make a difference?
4. Faith ultimately rests on Jesus our sacrificial Lamb
The choice that faced Moses and all the Israelites at the Passover, was to put their faith in God and obey Him. When God caused an angel to kill the firstborn in every home in Egypt, the Israelites had to act in faith by putting the blood on the door frame so that the angel would see the blood and Passover. If they chose not to do this, the firstborn in that household died.
Choices face people today – to put our trust in what the New Testament calls “Christ our Passover Lamb” (1 Cor. 5:7). In other words Jesus was the sacrificial lamb who died to save us from judgement. Faith will cause us to make the choice of entrusting ourselves to him and what he did for us on the cross to pay for our sins. If anyone has not done this can I urge you to do so – today, without delay.We all make choices every day; we live and die by them. Let faith in God inform and guide yours so that we choose courageously, rightly, for the long term and ultimately in Jesus who died for us.
(Attribution: Adapted from Sermon shared by Simon Fullylove from www.sermoncentral.com)