‘And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”’ (vv16–17)
We’ve observed that God places decision taking squarely in our hands. This free will precedes the Fall, demonstrating God has no interest in micro-managing His creation. In his state of innocence, Adam heard God’s advice with nothing to compare it to or contradict it. He was comfortable taking God at His word, yet trouble loomed. Obedience operates as an expression of a love that is never enforced, always a free, individual choice.
I was living in the community when Katey, my wife, physically deteriorated with MS, and community members took the decision to stay and help us, despite my encouraging them to leave and get on with their lives. Coercion only produces servitude, which in turn generates resentment and the imbalance of injustice. In turn, this leads to impaired decision making, for the injury such injustice causes affects good judgment. In rare cases, it produces witness to the purity of justice itself, for example, Nelson Mandela, who resisted his claim for justifiable retribution.
God does not take retribution on us because of our free will choices. Nor are we, the Church, to judge others. We’re to encourage everyone with Christ’s claims and the Christian approach to life, but we are never to coerce anyone to believe or punish someone for the choices they make. Naturally, society has its own processes for prosecuting criminals, but even here Jesus demonstrates mercy in response to repentance and faith with no evidence of reformation of a criminal’s life (Luke 23:42–43).
SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Josh. 24:14–22; Prov. 16:9–25; Gal. 5:13–26; 2 Peter 3:3–14.
AN ACTION TO TAKE: On what basis do you make decisions? Where is God in the process?
A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, thank You for the room to make decisions. Guide me to the best ones so that my steps might be established. Amen.’ (Prov. 16:9)
Photo from pxhere