Friday, October 23, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Choices

Who Will You Choose to Be?

A devotional by Amy Odland

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 
– John 8:6b-9 (NIV)

Ever been to a restaurant with a group of people and have someone in the group who doesn’t know what they want to eat?

First, they let everyone else order before them to buy more time. Then they possibly ask the waiter a bunch of questions, trying to narrow their decision by eliminating items they were considering. Or maybe they listen to what those who ordered before them got and just copycat someone else’s order that sounded tasty.

Maybe at some point we’ve all had a turn at being this person...unable to make a decision and then as the pressure mounts, we either make a decision in haste or just resort to accepting the decision someone else made and substituting it for our own. I assume many of us can identify with having moments of indecision and feeling stuck when trying to make a difficult decision in a moment of pressure...especially decisions more paramount in life than just what to order for dinner while dining out.

The religious leaders in the scripture verse above had a difficult decision they needed to make at a moment's notice. After Jesus knelt and wrote in the dirt, they decided to abort whatever scheme they were trying to carry out. Their silent, inward examinations led to the woman’s forgiveness and pardon. There was a second group of religious leaders in Acts 7:57-58 who were spurred on by their anger and rage in response to the truths and exhortations Stephen spoke in his self-defense against the false accusations they’d brought against him—their rash, impulsive, and selfish decision led to his death.

Here’s the thing:
As Christians, we get to decide every day, in little decisions sprinkled throughout our day, who we stand with. Do we stand with the righteous who are trying to uphold the law and “rules” of our faith or do we stand with Him who ushered in a new law? Jesus said in John 13:34 (NIV), “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also must love one another.”

In Luke 10:27 (NIV), Jesus told an expert of the law he’d answered correctly to Jesus’s question of what is written in the law. He’d said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus emphasized the idea of us loving God and loving others in both of these examples. In effect, He said to only worry about these two laws, effectively erasing all the laws man had warped or perverted over the years since Moses had brought down the stone tablets from Mount Sinai.

Just like when ordering at a restaurant, we need to each decide what we stand for, what we believe, and who we’re following. We need to decide for ourselves and not piggyback off the order/decision of another. We need to make a decision and not delay to the point of missing our chance. We need to rededicate ourselves to that decision each day and remind ourselves of this: Will we let love rule the day or will we let prideful righteousness win?

We are only responsible for our own choices. You won’t have to give account for my decisions and I won’t have to give account for yours. We have only our own sinfulness to account for.

Here’s a thought: Do you make your decisions based on the fact that Jesus will judge you for them? If you made a chart representing each day of your life, with a dot representing every day and assuming you lived to the age of exactly 85, you would have 31,025 dots on the chart. Each of those dots symbolizes a new day, a new chance to make the right decision, to make a choice like the group of religious leaders in John 8 did: to choose love and drop your stone in the dust instead of throwing it at someone.

What will you choose when you interact with other humans, Christian or otherwise? Will you choose to keep your pride, to condemn and throw stones or hurtful words, or to shut your ears and eyes to the truth when someone speaks it to you? Will you realize your own shortcomings and offer forgiveness to those who seek it or be kinder than is deserved and listen to truth no matter what it costs you? What will the dot for today in your life represent when Jesus recounts your whole life to you someday?

In closing, let’s reflect together on these words from Jesus found in John 13:35 (NIV):
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Note to the Reader from Amy: 
To read more about the judgment of believers, you can read 
2 Corinthians 5:6-10 and Revelation 20:11-13 or this article here ...

Author Bio:

Amy Odland has been serving in church ministry as a volunteer leader for over 16 years, in various worship, prayer and women’s ministry roles.

Her passion for helping women stems from her own struggles and lessons learned in her journey as a Christian since first deciding to follow the Lord in 1994.

Amy’s priorities after her faith include her family — husband Rick, and their four kids — as well as extended family who all live close in proximity and the many friends she’s made over the years.

In addition to a love of teaching and helping her husband with the bookkeeping for their many businesses, Amy has recently expanded her stay-at-home work to include leading author’s book launch teams for publishing companies like Baker, Revell, Barbour, and Lifeway.

She also enjoys teaching new authors about platform building, self-launching, and online marketing.

Connect with Amy:

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