Free choice is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. Each day we get to choose things like what to eat, what to wear, and what to think and say. This also applies to major decisions—like who to marry, where to live and what we will do with our lives.
We also choose whether we will love and serve God or not, because the Lord won't force us to do anything. Yes, He could make us worship Him, but He doesn't want us to be robots who have no choice about being in relationship with Him. He desires for us to love Him because we want to—not because we have to.
So much of our lives comes down to the choices we make. That's why I love Deuteronomy 30:19 (AMP), which says:
"I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore, you shall choose life in order that you may live ... ."
I love this, because God not only gives us the options, but He gives us the right answer as well: "Choose life!"
Galatians 6:7 says it this way: "Do not be deceived ... whatever a man sows, this and this only is what he will reap."
God is good, and He loves us tremendously. He has good thoughts and plans for our future (Jer. 29:11); however, we have a part to play in the process. Our decisions (the "seeds" we sow) will produce a harvest in our lives.
Good choices lead to good results and a good future, while bad choices will lead to regret and unhappiness.
Here's a practical example: My husband, Dave, has exercised regularly most of his life. Because he's been so diligent in this area, he's rarely been sick, and he always looks great.
I, on the other hand, did not enjoy exercising, so I didn't make good choices to work out over the years. Eventually, I began to see the negative results in my body.
When I finally realized I had done a serious disservice to myself by not exercising regularly, I was in my 60s. God put a desire in my heart to begin the habit of regular exercise, and now I walk several miles almost every day. I feel better now than I did when I was in my 40s!
Think about your life. How are your choices affecting your relationships? Your health? Your finances? Are the thoughts and words you're choosing having a positive impact on the atmosphere at home or at work? Are your decisions producing good results? Are they leading you closer to God or further away from Him?
I'm not talking about being perfect, and I don't mean to make you feel bad about yourself or the things you haven't done the way you should have. We all need God's grace to live right, to make good choices consistently that bring us the life He wants us to have.
Sometimes making wise decisions means we do what we need to do now—not what we feel like doing—so we can be happy later on. The truth is, the better our choices are today, the fewer "messes" we'll have to deal with tomorrow or further down the road.
If you need wisdom to know what to do, take time to study God's Word. The Bible is packed with instructions about how we can live a great life and reap a harvest of blessings. Psalm 1:1-3 gives us a wonderful promise from God for those who will obey His Word:
"Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example] ... but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season; its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity]."
If it feels like you're in such a difficult place in your life that you could never get where you really want to be, I want to encourage you. There was a time in my life years ago when things were so bad it didn't seem I could ever make enough good choices to get to a good place.
But as I began to do what I could do, God met me where I was and He did what I couldn't. And today, I'm happier and have more peace and fulfillment in my life than I ever have before!
Your situation probably won't change dramatically overnight, but if you'll focus on doing your part—what you can do—and make a determined decision to trust God to do what you can't do, you will see good results in time. The key is to keep making one good choice after another, one day at a time, and never give up!
Joyce Meyer is a New York Times best-selling author and founder of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Inc. She has authored 100 books, including Battlefield of the Mind and Get Your Hopes Up! (Hachette). She hosts the Enjoying Everyday Life radio and TV programs, which air on hundreds of stations worldwide. For more information, visit www.joycemeyer.org.