Day 2: Freedom to Choose
“…And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” ─ Joshua
Joshua 24:15 ESV
After hours of late nights sharing in the pain of someone I hold dear and countless conversations about how they came to the place they now stand… my loved one chose the same path once again. In spite of what God revealed, and the wise counsel of others. They made a choice and I was fed up. I checked out emotionally and mentally. Inside I was screaming, FINE! Have it your way. I’m DONE!
It wasn’t the choice I wanted them to make. In fact, I was pretty angry and frustrated because the choice affected me and many I love dearly. It was easier for me to wash my hands of the whole matter. I’m pretty sure you won’t find “easy” in the definition of love.
I’m learning love often means respecting someone’s choices even when it is not what I would choose, especially when it is the very opposite of what I think is right. Because love is not about being right or wrong, love is respecting all of us have a choice.
Honestly, I’m no different. I’ve made choices to love the world instead of God. I’ve chosen my way instead of His when the going got tough. I still do at times. God lovingly respects my choices and never gives up on me.
Love calls us to do the same… to never give up. Love urges us to pray, and pour out respect in ways that reveal His love for them. When we believe in the power of God’s love, and His will for all to come to know Him. Then there is never a moment when being done is an option.
No… the only option… the only choice Believers have… is love.
Respecting one’s freedom to choose has really hit home since my children have become adults.
Well into their twenties now, they make life choices for themselves. Some great, some questionable. Some so questionable it makes me wonder where I failed. I continually have to remind myself of their freedom to choose.
I also must remind myself to trust God with their freedom, His love for them, and His ability to redeem all our bad choices. It helps to look back at the choices I made as a young adult. It’s a humbling perspective, which brings His redeeming power and grace into living color.
Respecting others includes respecting their choices. Everyone has freedom to choose when it comes to what they believe by faith.
Joshua respected those he led into the Promised Land, calling on them to choose whether they would serve God, the idols of their forefathers in Egypt, or Abraham’s forefathers. He also gave them the choice of serving the gods of the previous inhabitants of their promised land. Joshua made his choice clear, and then put a clear choice before them.
We too must respect people’s freedom to choose when it comes to what they believe about Jesus.
Read Mark 8:27-28
People had many different ideas about who Jesus was. Who did they say He was?
Jesus respects people’s freedom to choose what they believe about Him. He never tells them they are wrong. He never argues. He doesn’t debate. He reveals Himself through His teaching and miracles, sometimes with words. But He never forces the issue, because He knows the truth. Who He is must be revealed to them by the Father.
Read Matthew 16:13-17
When Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” what did Peter say?
According to Jesus, how did Peter know He was the Christ, the Son of the living God?
When it comes to respecting people’s understanding of who Jesus is, we are ultimately respecting God’s freedom to reveal His Son to whom He will reveal.
Flesh and blood cannot convince people to choose Jesus. Only the gift of faith, the Spirit of revelation, the opening of eyes by Father God, can move someone to choose Him. We must respect God’s timing and judgment when it comes to others believing Jesus is the Savior of the world.
For [God] said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
─ Romans 9:15 ESV
Respecting an individual’s freedom to choose not to believe can be difficult when it’s someone you love. Resisting the temptation to argue, debate, convince, and browbeat into belief can be hard. Our instinct is to fight for them. It can also be difficult to trust God and respect His timing in choosing to gift your loved one with faith.
Some make a choice by not making a choice. Even the choice not to seek truth at all is one we need to respect in others. We are not to call them fools or ridicule them. But it doesn’t mean we can’t pray for them and build relationship with them, waiting for an opportunity to speak truth in love.
Then there are those who choose to let you know their choice to reject the truth about Jesus through combative and disdainful behavior. You may even suffer persecution because of their choice. However… we are called to respect their choice, too.
Read Luke 6:27-28
How does Jesus teach us to deal with our enemies?
Read Matthew 5:44-45
Who does Jesus say you will be when you love your enemies? Why?
Respecting one’s freedom to choose, no matter what they choose and how they voice it, is all about remembering God gave you the same choice. As Believers, we act like our Father, blessing others with the same respect.
Talk It Out
Talk it over with yourself:
Whose choices do you find hard to respect? Why?
Understanding God’s sovereignty in doling out faith, do you find it hard to respect (trust) His timing and judgment? Why?
Talk it over with God:
Ask God to remind you how He allowed you the freedom to choose. He did not force you. He did not coerce or manipulate you. He wooed you.
Ask Him to teach you how to woo others to Christ and respect His judgment in the process.
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
Isaiah 30:18 ESV
Work Out Your Faith
Sometimes we ask someone to make a choice which affects us too. Where do you want to eat? What movie do you want to see? You choose. But when the choice is made we interject with, I don’t like that. Or I’ve already seen that. It’s not very respectful to give someone the freedom to choose and then argue with their choice.
Today, or at some point this week, work out respect by following through and respecting their choice. Not with teeth gritted. But with an attitude of love and grace for their choice.
Reflection Scripture: Memorize
Do _____________ out of _________________ ambition or vain ________________. Rather, in ____________________ _____________ others above ____________________, not _______________ to your own _________________ but each of you to the ________________ of the ___________. Philippians 2:3-4