Vol.XVII No.V Pg.3
July 1980

Choice And Consequence

Dan S. Shipley

Because man is a free moral agent, he does what he chooses to do and is what he chooses to be (other things being equal). Had God programmed man, as some foolishly wish, so that he could only do and desire good, there would be no such thing is morality, or responsibility, or accountability. With but little serious reflection, the awesomeness of volition becomes apparent. It means that responsible men are what they choose to be with reference to God; that none can be considered blameless. Paul concludes the Gentiles of old to be without excuse in their ungodliness. How much more we of this age? None can deny himself to be anything more or less than the product of his own choosing, whether with Christ or against Him (Matt. 12:30).

But, obviously, not all who choose to be against Christ choose to admit it. In fact, many still call Him "Lord, Lord", while refusing to do as He says (Lk. 6:46). But man's choice is always apparent because what he chooses he demonstrates. Allegiance to the Lord's cause may be proclaimed loud and long, but it remains that "by their fruits ye shall know them" (Lk. 6:46) and "he that doeth righteousness is righteous" (1 Jn.3: 7). So, neither God nor the devil "made me" do the wrong or kept me from doing the right. What I did or failed to do reflects MY CHOICE, — circumstances, situations and all the excuses in the world notwithstanding! Personal priorities cannot be hidden. They advertise, sometimes embarrassingly, what we have chosen to occupy our time, interests and attention. So, like it or not, your choice is showing. But, not only is man what he freely chooses and demonstrates, he obviously endorses what he chooses. To endorse simply means to approve of, to sanction or to give support to. The man who smokes approves of smoking. The man who drinks sanctions the practice of drinking and the man who uses profanity certainly endorses it. How could anyone possibly conclude otherwise? The same is true concerning affiliation with a certain religious group. It is not unusual to hear of some in denominationalism or liberalism expressing dissatisfaction over unscriptural practices and innovations; yet, with their presence and contributions continue to demonstrate and endorse a choice to support the very things they oppose. Wouldn't that be something like knowing to do good and doing it not — and isn't that sin? (Jas. 4:17) Some may rationalize. Some may blame the elders. But individual responsibility and volition are a package deal. With my choice and its demonstration goes my stamp of approval. But that's not all.

In addition, what I choose and endorse, I recommend to others. Through influence and example, we encourage others to accept our choices. There is a sense in which every man is a living testimonial for his lifestyle. As Paul indicates, we are letters, known and read of all men (2 Cor. 3:2). Our lives convey an important and influential message. Only the hypocrite thinks he can write a poor letter and get a good reading. Our children, our brethren and the world read what we choose, approve and recommend. Are they better for it? Thankfully we can still choose to improve!