The Choices We Make
Recently, a reader posed the following important question:
"Dr. Masek: I am seeking a better understanding of your remark: "We allow bad things to happen by the choices we make." Are you referring only to our own choices or the choices of others as well? For example, if a person is killed by a drunk driver, is that by the choice of the person who chose to drive while under the influence? or the driver who chose to get in their car that day? Thank you very much for your time." Jeannette
Thank you for your comment and question, Jeannette.
Your question deals with an all too familiar situation in our world today in which there is definitely a cause in play. The ultimate cause is most certainly the free will choice of the driver to operate a vehicle in a drunken or impaired state. That choice put in motion a series of events that led to the death of another person. Some might call this “collateral damage” from the cause that led to the curse.
I do not pretend to know with any certainty what really happened in your scenario. However, I will apply God’s Word to the situation and then offer some things for your consideration.
…so the curse does not come without a cause. (BBE)
Proverbs 26:2 leads us to the conclusion that without a cause, a curse will not come.
According to Proverbs 26, a cause leads to a curse. As a result, the logical conclusion is that we have at least some degree of control over the outcomes in our lives. Paul the Apostle even gives the impression that we may have some choice in the matter of our own death as we read in Philippians 1:21-26.
For to me life is Christ and death is profit. But if I go on living in the flesh--if this is the fruit of my work--then I do not see what decision to make. I am in a hard position between the two, having a desire to go away and be with Christ, which is very much better: Still, to go on in the flesh is more necessary because of you. And being certain of this, I am conscious that I will go on, yes, and go on with you all, for your growth and joy in the faith; So that your pride in me may be increased in Christ Jesus through my being present with you again. (BBE)
Paul “decided” that it was better for those to whom he was ministering for him to stay with them and not die. This was a conscious choice. If there is truly no choice, then his comments are irrelevant.
Another biblical example might be the scenario of 2 Samuel 24 in which David brought a curse upon Israel as a result of his cause of disobedience. His choice led to the death of 70,000 people before the effects of the curse were stayed through his repentance and sacrifice of atonement. It would seem unlikely that the 70,000 that died were all complicit in David’s sin, so it would be very hard to say that destruction came upon them as a result of their own choices. So when we think globally, things can happen to us that are not caused by us.
However, consider this: even though the cause of the curse is not always of our own making, perhaps an ignored warning of danger could be loosely considered as a cause of sorts. For example, I recently watched the movie, “90 Minutes In Heaven”. Don was impatient to get home. He was involved in a horrific accident that was not caused by him. He was pronounced dead at the scene but he revived 90 minutes later and survived. At the beginning of the film there was a scene in which he apparently had to make a decision as to which route to take when driving home. He had to go to the left or the right and he chose the right. There was no specific commentary about that choice, but the choice was presented a second time in the film as he relived the events.
Consider these possibilities:
- The accident required exact timing for the collision to occur on the bridge, removing any possibility of escape or avoidance of the situation.
- Perhaps he lingered too long or too little before leaving on the trip.
- Perhaps he drove too slowly or too fast.
- God wanted him to nearly die and suffer the pain and agony that he did.
- Perhaps he received a “check” from the Holy Spirit to take the road to the left but his impatience to return home led him on the other path.
I don’t know about you, but I know for a fact that I have personally been spared from some potentially life threatening situations by not making the wrong choice. I would like to believe that it was the Spirit of God that directed me and I happened to obey the warning. I pray that I always continue to listen and heed His advice.
I believe that I am truly only responsible for my own actions and I try not to be critical of things that happen to others. I do my best to evaluate my actions according to the counsel of God’s Word and it is important that we share our knowledge and revelation of Him. It seems clear in the Word of God that our trust and faith in Him is the thing that is most important. Personally, I choose to believe that He “has my back” and that the word in Isaiah 54:17 applies to me.
No weapon that has been made to be used against you will succeed. You will have an answer for anyone who accuses you. This is the inheritance of the Lord's servants. Their victory comes from me," declares the Lord. (GWT)
We are in a spiritual battle for our very lives and our souls. We cannot be truly successful without the tools He equips us with as described in 2 Corinthians.10-4-5
2 Corinthians 10:4-5
The weapons we use are not human ones. Our weapons have power from God and can destroy the enemy's strong places. We destroy people's arguments, and we tear down every proud idea that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We also capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ. (ERV)
Some people might consider several potential scenarios in this very difficult question that your example poses.
- Stuff like this happens for no reason, it is just random.
- It was simply a matter of fate.
- The person that died just had bad luck that day.
- The person had bad “karma” and was being punished for some past sin.
- God wanted to teach the person that died a lesson.
- God decided to kill the person at the hand of the drunk driver because he wanted that person in heaven.
- The person that died did something that caused the accident.
- The person that died believed or said that he/she would die in an accident.
- The person that died was warned to do something different and ignored the warning.
I do not believe that the death of the person at the hand of the drunk driver was his/her fault, nor did God "call the person home to heaven." But there was still a cause for the curse of death. We may indeed find ourselves in a collateral damage situation that may cause massive destruction or death. However, our faith and trust in Jesus provides us with deliverance from the destruction that the thief (Satan) designs for us and uses our words to ensnare us. Ultimately, this was the case for Don since he did survive and prosper.
As believers, we know according to Romans 8 that all things work together for our good and the Holy Spirit will make a way for good to come out of a bad situation.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (KJV)
Ultimately, this was the case for Don since he did survive and prosper. But that is not to say that God makes "all things" happen.
To at least some extent, our words shape our lives. Even words that we may not remember or that we speak causally. Jesus told us just how important our words are and how they can bring us life or death in Matthew 12:36-37.
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (KJV)
So, my answer is to share the love of God and the knowledge of faith in His Word. Those who accept it and live by it can enjoy its benefits. It is our Faith in Him that makes the difference. Those who ignore or reject it are subject to the work of the enemy, the thief that Jesus described in John 10:10.
The thief comes only to take the sheep and to put them to death: he comes for their destruction: I have come so that they may have life and have it in greater measure. (BBE)
Jesus provides for us the greater measure of Life, not death and destruction.
To learn more about the Character and Nature of the God of the Bible: