He was a young man condemned to death. A life full of promise had been squandered away for a life of crime. Now, hanging on a cross as a convicted thief, he must pay the ultimate price for his sins. But how did he get there? Many bad decisions had led him to this place in life, but one, in particular, stands out – the decision on his associates.
“To Jesus in His agony on the cross there came one gleam of comfort. It was the prayer of the penitent thief. Both the men who were crucified with Jesus had at first railed upon Him; and one under his suffering only became more desperate and defiant. But not so with his companion. This man was not a hardened criminal; he had been led astray by evil associations, but he was less guilty than many of those who stood beside the cross reviling the Saviour.” Ellen White, Desire of Ages, pg 749
Of all the decisions we have to make in life, none are more impactful than the decisions on who to spend our time with. The influences of friends are real. The people who are in our private circles of life are either helping us to become better or are doing the opposite. Everyone has an influence.
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. Proverbs 13:20
This week as we look at the overly broad subject of making decisions in life, let us not forget evil associates can short-circuit our good intentions. Many an aspiring young person of promise, has had their life derailed by a wrong choice of companionship.
The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 12:26
The Bible is a book about decisions. Starting with our first parents Adam and Eve, we see played out how one bad decision can lead to a lifetime of woe. The power of choice is revealed from Genesis to Revelation.
The decision of Israel in wanting a king changed the course of a nation. Yet the decision of Joseph the slave saved an entire nation. The decision of the rich young ruler to value his possessions above his soul is contrasted by the jailer of Paul and Silas who asked: “what must I do to be saved?” Life is about decisions.
“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” Anthony Robbins
Each of our days is full of decisions. Some seem insignificant, some major. Some we get right, some wrong. The reasons why we often make wrong choices are varied. In some cases, we are not honest with ourselves. The warning signs are before us, but because of vanity or short-term pleasure, we often ignore the obvious.
As believers, our safeguard is starting each day by putting everything before the Lord. Our wants and desires should be made known to He who searches all hearts. This promise is for us:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
God, in His mercy, can take our bad decisions and turn them into a blessing. It was such for that young thief hanging on the cross. Although his was a life of bad choices, that fateful day he made the right decision. His decision to accept Christ as his Saviour saved his soul and was the best decision one could ever make.
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does freedom of choice mean to you?
- Why does the age of life make a difference in the quality of one’s decisions?
- What role, if any, does education play in making good decisions?
- If you are unsure of a decision, is it better to do nothing until you are sure? Explain your answer.
- What helped shape the decisions of Joseph (Genesis 39) while in captivity?
- Who should make the primary decisions regarding corporate church life?
- If a believer made a bad personal decision in life (sin), does that disqualify them from having a voice in the direction of a local church? Why yes or no?
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: The more Bible you know, the more reliable your decisions will be. Explain your answer.
We close this week’s lesson on “The Choices We Make” with what has become my favorite Bible text. It’s a promise we should constantly claim.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!