Then He said to them, "Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.” Mark 4:23-24 (New King James translation)
Jesus was holding them accountable for what they did with what they heard. If they properly applied it, they’d get deeper truth. He made it obvious that “hearing” was actually a choice they had to make and would have a direct impact on their future. Still today we face choices in everything we do, and those decisions have serious consequences for good or bad.
Whether we hear God’s truth or refuse to hear it is a choice, not an accident—“They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
“But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” (Romans 2:8)
“Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you…” (Hosea 4:6) Rejecting truth and knowledge involves making choices. None of it is happenstance.
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:18-20)
This passage makes it clear that ignorance is not an excuse. Knowledge of the reality of God has been given to mankind and we can accept it, leading to eternal life, or reject it, leading to catastrophic consequences.
“…whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4 ESV) This is a particularly chilling verse because it makes clear, those who choose the world’s belief system make themselves an enemy of God. God doesn’t choose this for them; they choose it for themselves. In order to have life in Jesus, we must choose to die to the values and focus of this world, which is in direct opposition to holy living.
Paul commanded us to be “… made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness,” (Ephesians 4:23-24), involving choices we have to enforce in our thought lives. (For more on our thought lives, see “Our Thought Life”)
Jesus told a parable in Luke 16:19-25 of a rich man who lived in luxury. Every day he passed by a God-fearing beggar named Lazarus who was covered in sores. When they both died, the rich man went to “Hades,” where he was in constant agony. He asked that the beggar be allowed to “dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’” He was then reminded of the choices he had made: “…remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.” One of the most fearful aspects of Hell is that we will remember all the choices we had in our lives, when we could have chosen obedience to God, but didn’t.
“But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves,” (Luke 7:30) The Pharisees and their compatriots chose poorly and began reaping the consequences immediately upon their deaths.
Even not making a choice is a choice in itself. A person in a canoe must paddle constantly to keep from being swept downstream. To decide not to paddle is to decide to be swept away. In Deuteronomy 30:19 Moses said, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…” Not choosing life is the same as choosing death.
The choice is ours, every day.
Except where noted, all quotes are from the NIV
© 2017 Darvis McCoy