Recognize the power of choice

The writer is pastor of the United Church of God Big Sandy.

By Dave Havir

BIG SANDY, Texas-What is the greatest power in the universe? Isn't it amazing that this power, the power of God, is within you? (2 Corinthians 4:7).

A secondary power complements the awesome power of God: the power of choice. Those two powers combine to form a dynamic team (1 Corinthians 2:11).

In this article I want to discuss the power of choice.

Decisions, decisions

Life is filled with decisions. This was true for us before we were Christians, and it is still true since we became members of the Body of Christ.

Decisions help us to avoid challenges, and decisions help us to overcome challenges.

Oftentimes our challenges involve our relationships with other people. Let's explore three courses of action that we can use to face our relationship challenges.

Remember that each situation is different, and therefore the solutions are not entirely identical.

Seek to solve

A first option is often the decision for a person to productively and positively work to help overcome a challenge. Such a choice can be a valuable use of your time. By directing your energy toward solutions, you might be able to make a difference.

If you can influence a positive outcome, you will experience strong fulfillment. And, even if you cannot influence a positive outcome, at least you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you tried to help solve a problem.

Seek to cope

A second option is often the decision for a person to cope with the realities of the situation.

Choosing to cope with a situation can be an active step. I am not talking about someone who feels powerless or trapped. I am talking about someone who knows the realities of a situation and then makes an informed decision.

If you have sought to help overcome a challenge and have made a difference, then choosing to cope can be a natural follow-up. You may recognize the positive steps and may choose to be patient with the remaining challenges.

If you have sought to help overcome a challenge and have not made a difference, then choosing to cope may still be a good option. The determining factor will be the answer to this question: Is the relationship worth salvaging?

If you consider that the relationship is worth salvaging, here are some other factors to consider:

  • Be realistic, but dwell upon the positive (Philippians 4:8).
  • Receive strength from Christ (Philippians 4:11-13).
  • Suffer wrong like Christ (1 Peter 2:18-21).

Change the factors

A third option is often the decision to change the factors that are causing the problem.

Sometimes people are criticized for choosing to change factors too quickly. At other times people are criticized for choosing not to change factors when they should.

Sometimes people are criticized for being impatient and independent. At other times people are criticized for being paralyzed and codependent.

Trying to decide whether to change the factors is usually a serious decision and should not be made capriciously.

Yet it is a valid option. It is an option that takes wisdom and courage.

Leaving sometimes best

Leaving is not always the best solution. Sometimes the truisms really are true: You are just trying to run away from your problem. The grass isn't always greener on the other side.

Yet leaving is sometimes the best solution.

It is true that people will show many scriptures describing patience, enduring, waiting upon God, etc. Those scriptures are, after all, in the Bible. Yet do people always apply them correctly?

Notice the following four scriptures:

1 Corinthians 7:12-15 describes a marriage relationship that is not progressing well. The Bible supports the marital union in a powerful way. Yet the Bible supports the idea that there is a time when leaving is appropriate.

Before I proceed, I would like to mention that the marriage union and the family structure are the most important of the four examples we will discuss. Choices about this relationship are the most critical. These decisions are the most challenging, and the people making these decisions may request your help and support.

1 Corinthians 7:21 talks about slavery and is often applied to employment situations. The Bible supports being a good employee. Yet the Bible supports the idea that an employee may choose to leave his employment. Obviously this decision should be thoroughly considered.

Matthew 2:12-15 describes how God warned Joseph and Mary to leave their country to avoid a bad situation. This example reveals how God solved a problem with a civil government. At that time leaving was the best option. How does this apply to you? Someday you may choose to leave a school district, a city or a state. Obviously, this decision should also be thoroughly considered.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 describes a situation in which Christians leave unrighteousness. This can be applied in several ways. Certainly this scripture would apply to a Christian's choice of where to worship.

Consider the following words carefully: Choosing a congregation is not usually as important as family matters, employment matters or civil authorities. You read correctly. Please read on.

It is vital to have a personal relationship with God and to be a part of the Body of Christ!

If having a personal relationship with God and being a part of the Body of Christ were directly connected with being a part of a specific physical congregation or corporation, then this choice would rank higher.

But the truth is that God's spiritual organism supersedes physical inventions!

The most important thing about being a Christian is to have God's Spirit and embrace the truth. Therefore, Christians like to be in a congregation that includes God's Spirit and the truth. Thankfully, there are choices that fulfill that criterion.

Not everyone understands this yet. Some people still associate their specific congregation directly with their personal salvation. In other words, they feel that leaving a physical congregation is leaving the Body of Christ. Technically, such an idea is heresy.

If a Christian leaves a specific congregation without leaving the Spirit and the truth, that Christian has not left the Body of Christ.

Remember that some authority figures and friends might lovingly warn you or rudely badger you about "leaving the church." Remember that these people are probably trying to help you.

However, also remember that a congregation that bases its existence upon psychological traps or pressure tactics is not a healthy congregation.

Facing up

Is this article trying to influence people to leave relationships? No. This article is trying to educate about truthful concepts.

This article seeks to boldly state this concept: You should not make decisions because you feel trapped or pressured!

The Bible teaches us that each of us has personal responsibility for our choices. You should make decisions based upon principle, wisdom and timing.

Many people can influence you: positively or negatively. But no one should make your choices for you.

If people want you to leave a situation when you believe that you should stay, listen to their logic and love. Then you decide.

If people want you to stay in a situation when you believe you should leave, listen to their logic and love. Then you decide.

With God's help, you are the master of your life. If you are feeling trapped, reexamine your situation. If people are trying to make you feel trapped, look out.

Your challenges will continue to be real. Thankfully, God's help is also real.

God has given you His Spirit. God has given you the power of choice.

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