Choices Part 1: The Power of Choice

This message was preached by Dr. Mensa Otabil

One of the certainties of life is that each one of us makes choices. Some of the choices we make are automatic, we don’t think about them and we make them. But there are also choices that we make consciously, and for you to be in church today there are some choices you’ve already made, so many of them. You had to choose when to get out of bed and that is a big choice for a lot of us.

You know you are awake but your body wants to still stay in the bed but you had to choose when to get out of bed and thank God you all chose to get out of bed. You had to choose when to have your bathe and I suppose it was a good choice, you had to choose when to brush your teeth, you had to choose whether to come to church or not but thank God you chose to come, some of you had to choose which service you wanted to come to either the earlier one the later one.

You had to choose what you are to wear to church. So what you are wearing today is a product of your choice, just look around and see whether you made a good choice. You had to choose how to behave in the church so that you will comport yourself well in the house of God, whether you are coming happily to worship or you are coming moody and not participate in the service.

All those choices have been made and you continue to make choices, so you look at your life and you find out that choices are practical in our lives and they happen every day and every moment of our lives – we are making one choice or the other.

So let’s start with some definition of choice. What does it mean to make a choice?

A choice is an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.

So, if you have no possibility then you are not making a choice. For a choice to happen, there must be two things. There must be options and there must be preferences. You have to look at two or more things and then you have to decide which one you prefer, which one you like to do and every moment of our lives we are making a choice, we are selecting, we are making a decision, we are looking at the possibilities facing us, we are making responses to them.

Life generally appears simpler without choices, because when you have no options in life, you just deal with what you have to deal with and you don’t have to confuse yourselves- should I do this should I do that.

When you have no option, you take what is before you but that kind of life, simple life without options, without choices, is the life of a slave and life of a beggar. A beggar has no choice and a slave is made to just do what the master wants and I don’t think anyone of us wants to live the life of a slave or the life of a beggar.

So, if you want to live beyond that of a slave and that of a beggar, we have to make choices and the choices will have to be made right. Instead of someone else choosing for us, we must make the important decisions of our life by ourselves.

Now I know that is always difficult for all of us, myself included.

There are sometimes you wish somebody will choose for you because making a choice can be very confusing. It’s like going to the restaurant, if you go to a simple food stand, maybe to a kenkey and fish seller or to a banku and okra stew seller, you have no choice.

When you go to a kenkey and fish seller, you know you are going for kenkey and fish. So, you don’t go there deciding should I eat kenkey or should it be fish? Or should it be a stew or should it be kenkey? No, you don’t think of those things because for the kenkey and fish seller that is all they sell, kenkey and fish. Maybe the selection you would make, the option would be you look at some fish and say I don’t like the head, I don’t like the tail or they give you some pepper and you say I want more pepper or you look at the kenkey and say this one looks very emaciated go in again and give me another kenkey. But it’s still kenkey and it’s still fish so you don’t really have many options so, its a very simple decision, you go to the kenkey seller and buy your kenkey.

However, if you go to a restaurant where they have a buffet served, where there are several options and it starts from the starter to the main meal, to the dessert and all kinds of options are there, it becomes very confusing. You will find out that when you go to a restaurant people stand at the buffet stand a lot longer than you do at the kenkey stand because at the buffet stand you are making a choice. There are options and many times when people go to the restaurant and they have to make a choice, making a choice is so difficult so all they do is they take everything so, by the time they go through their buffet, their plate is so heaped and some people will heap the starter, the dessert, and the main meal together because the choice is too difficult and then they go to sit down and they realize that they chose too much and they chose things they don’t like and they pick here and pick there and they leave a lot of it uneaten. Why, because choices are more confusing than no choice.

But if you want to leave a life above a slave, we have to make choices and you will be faced with many options.

The reality of life is that God created us to make choices, He expects us to make choices, He did not create us to leave with one option in life.

So, the whole concept of the Bible, when you read the whole Bible it’s all about choices and how God responds to our choices. That is why there is judgment because if there is no choice then there can be no judgment for your actions.

So, let’s start from the Bible to look at some of the important things we can pick about choices. I’m going to read three (3) passages in the Bible, one from Deuteronomy, one from Luke, and the final one from Revelation – Old Testament and New Testament. And we are going to look at some passages that have to do with choices.

The first passage is in Deut 30:19-20, this is part of the last instructions that Moses has given to Israel. Now I want you to pay attention to what Moses told them.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 New King James Version (NKJV)

19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

I want you to note; He says I’m setting before you life and death, blessing and cursing; it’s a choice. Now let’s go to the New Testament and let’s see Jesus himself and how he deals with choices.

Luke 22:41-43, this is Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane just before He goes to the cross to redeem us from sin. It’s going to be a very difficult process for Him, it’s going to be painful, it’s going to cost Him and let’s see how Jesus deals with this situation. It says;

41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 [a]Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.

Luke 22:41-43 New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus has options; the will of the father and his will as a human being so he has to make a choice, which will He submit to –  whether the father’s will or his own will.

So, we see even Jesus is faced with choices. And finally let’s go to the end of the Bible, the last book of the Bible the book of Revelation and see what the Holy Spirit says about choices.

17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely

Revelation 22:17 New King James Version (NKJV)

Whoever desires let him take the water of life freely – CHOICES. If you want it you can take it, if you want the river of life the water of life you can take it, if you want eternal life you can take it.

All these three passages talk about choices so from these three passages we learn a few things about the way God created us and the way He expects us to respond to life.

We are created for three purposes;

Firstly, we are created with free will. Your will is the part of you that decides what to do, and when we say free will it means that that will is free. God will not impose his will on you; we are created with a free will.

Secondly, we are created with a conscience to know right from wrong.

We have the ability to look at two options and know what is right from what is wrong; that does not mean that when we know right from wrong, we choose the right. We just know it but sometimes we choose the wrong. We have the ability to know right from wrong, we have free will, we have a conscience we can know right from wrong.

Thirdly, we are created to do God’s will willingly. God will not impose his will on us. He will persuade us, He will call us, He will instruct us, He will discipline us but He will not force us. So if you have a free will, you have the ability to know the right from the wrong, and God is not going to impose His will on you, It means that there is something you must do, that I must do to exercise my will to make a choice.

And in life, you are going to be faced with the pressure of choices. Now when you are faced with choices, you may decide not to choose but not choosing is a choice. Sometimes when you take an exam or when you are taking a questioner, they ask a question and they will say;

  • (a) they give you the option,
  • (b) they give you the option
  • (c) option
  • (d) option then the
  • (e) they say none of the above.

None of the above is also a choice. So, not choosing is a choice.

For example, when you wake up in the morning especially when you have to do something very early in the morning, you wake up and you know you must get up but part of you also says just lie down for the next five minutes and just get a minute of sleep.

The question is if three, four, five, six, seven, eight hours of sleep didn’t do it, do you really think five extra minutes of sleep will get it done? I mean it’s your body playing tricks on you.

You know that but many times you say, ok OK OK let me just close my eyes and I will open it in five minutes, but you and I know normally it’s not five minutes, by the time you open your eyes it’s one hour later, and you are late for the appointment and in Ghana when you are late for an appointment, you always have a constant alibi – traffic.

Thank God for traffic because when you are late you never say I overslept which is normally what happened or I didn’t plan ahead of time or I didn’t iron my clothes last night because I was going to go out early this morning.

Those are choices; it is not just the traffic. Even the traffic, we have a choice whether to let it catch us, depending on when you set out because the traffic doesn’t run twenty-four hours. There are times in the day when there is no traffic and if you set out early enough, you will be on time so it’s a choice.

Now, when faced with choices, sometimes we get paralyzed and we don’t know what to do. In other to simplify what I’m teaching, I’m going to focus on the critical choices that we have to make in life.

I’m not going to talk about what toothpaste you use and what shoe to wear, whether you wear a black shoe on your right and brown shoe on your left, it’s your choice. I’m not going to talk about what shirt to wear because as much as those choices are important, they are normally not very consequential to our lives. They may just give you little variation but there are some critical choices that you have to actively participate in and you have to really consider how you exercise the options that you are faced with us.

So I’m going to talk about- Three big choices that each one of us must consciously engage in.



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