Make Your Life A Choice Not A Chance
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. – Proverbs 3:3-6 NLT*
by Barry C. Black, Chaplain, United States Senate
Earlier in life, my world seemed determined more by chance than choice. Think of the many things in our lives that we cannot choose. We do not choose our parents or siblings. We do not choose where we will be born, our ethnicity, or our accent. We do not choose how we will look, whether we will be tall or short, pretty or plain. Chance often seems to rule the seasons of our lives.
Older now, lately I have come to believe our lives are determined at least as much by the choices we make as by the rule of chance. We have a choice in life. God gives us choices. God already has a plan for each individual. He talks about this plan in Jeremiah 29:11, declaring that He desires to give us a future and a hope and to bring us to an expected end. Never forget that if we give God permission He has promised to direct our steps (Psalm 37:23).
I believe life is as much more a choice than a chance because God rewards our acceptance of His plan for our lives. We are free moral agents, for God has given us an ability He did not give the homing pigeon. We can say no to the omnipotent God of the universe. We can choose to orchestrate, as best we can, the happenings in our lives or give God permission to fulfill His purposes for our being. When we give God permission to direct our path, He can do for us absolutely more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
Our scripture lesson in Proverbs 3 reminds us of an approach to making life a choice, not a chance. We are told in Proverbs 3:3, “Never let loyalty and kindness lead you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.” One of the first steps in making life a choice, not a chance, is to wear loyalty and kindness like ornaments. Perhaps the Bible is helping us to do so with the reminder that the merciful shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7). We are also reminded that God values loyalty. We are told “to love the Lord our God with all our heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5-6). With loyalty and kindness in our lives, we make it more probable that life will be a choice, not a chance.
When we are loyal and kind, we become eligible for God’s favor. He promises to give us favor with Himself and humanity (Proverbs 3:4). This is another important step. Proverbs 3:4 reminds us that we can choose to find favor with both God and people. Psalm 5:12 says that the righteous are surrounded with the shield of God’s favor. Favor happens when we receive affection and appreciation from people. This is the blessing God gave to Esther who was made Queen of Persia (Esther 2:15). This is also the blessing God gave Daniel, providing him with tender love and favor in the eyes of one of the king’s chief officials. When we wear loyalty and kindness as ornaments, we will find favor with both God and people.
A third factor in making your life a choice, not a chance, is to give God an undivided heart. We are told to trust in the Lord with all our heart (Proverbs 3:5a). God wants all of you and me. He wants our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He desires us to give Him a passionate commitment that is not given grudgingly and of necessity but rather cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). Make your life a choice, not a chance, by giving God your whole heart.
The fourth factor in making your life a choice, not a chance, is to know the limitations of human knowledge. The Bible tells us to not depend on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5b). Someone once observed that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. Too often we put our plans first and ask God to cooperate with us in carrying them out. One way to ensure that we do not depend on our own understanding is to ask God each day for wisdom. God has promised that if we ask Him for wisdom without doubting, He will shower us liberally with this precious gift (James 1:5-6). If you want your life to be a choice, not a chance, know the limitations of human knowledge. Remember that at its best, human wisdom is imperfect.
Another crucial factor in making your life a choice, not a chance, is to seek God’s will in all you do (Proverbs 3:6a). Jesus of Nazareth taught people to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6). This is what seeking God’s will in all we do entails. It involves striving to fulfill His purposes for your life in every circumstance. When David was brutally defeated by his enemy in 1 Samuel verse 30, he inquired of the Lord whether or not he should pursue those who had robbed him. David did not trust his own understanding and was reassured by God that if he pursued his foes the victory would be certain.
Rabbi Bar Kappara was once asked this question: “What is the succinct text upon all the essential principles of Judaism may be considered to hinge?” The Rabbi answered, “Judaism’s essential principles hang on one verse, Proverbs 3:6, ‘In all your ways acknowledge God, and He shall direct your path’” (Israel Goldstein, Toward a Solution (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1940, p. 45).
What exactly does this verse mean? It’s plainly indicating that in every aspect of our lives God is to be taken into account. This same sentiment is expressed in the Bible verse that says we should do all things for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). We should, therefore, have a spiritual factor in our work, business, relationships, and recreation. Thoughts about God should continuously influence our life’s conduct.
In college we often have a major area of study and a minor area of study. In life we should major in God and minor in everything else. This is suggested in the Bible verse that states to seek first God’s kingdom and the other things will be added to our lives (Matthew 6:33).
Acknowledging God in all we do is warranted because we should subordinate our desires to a higher wisdom and power. After all, God is the one who has made us; we didn’t make ourselves (Psalm 100:3). I once heard a United States senator say, “The lights came on for me when I realized that God is God, and I am not.” This is the humility needed to say to God, “Your will be done.”
Finally, if you are to make life a choice, not a chance, expect divine guidance. The Bible declares that God will show us which path to take (Proverbs 3:6b). When we give God permission to direct our lives He immediately begins to work for our good (Romans 8:28). We will then be able to exclaim, “God knows the way that we take, and when He has tried us we shall come forth as pure gold” (Job 23:10).
Imagine how much more meaningful and influential our lives would be if wearing ornaments of loyalty and kindness found us favor with both God and people. Think how much greater progress we would make if we gave God an undivided heart, ever aware of the boundaries of human knowledge, and seeking His divine purpose in all we do. We would then be able to confidently experience God doing for us more than we can ask or imagine. With the hymnist, Doris Atkers, we can daily sing these words: “Lead me. Guide me along the way. Lord, if you lead me I will not stray. Lord, let me walk each day with thee. Lead me O Lord; Lead me.”