Choices: How do you decide what’s next?

By  Leonard Lauriault

In the movie, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” there’s a scene, or rather a line I’ll not soon forget. An old knight who’d been guarding the holy grail for several centuries is in a room full of cups when Indiana Jones arrives followed by the bad guys. As they’re wondering which cup is the grail, the knight tells them to choose wisely because only one cup would give life. One of the bad guys drank from the most ornate cup – the one they thought a god would choose – and immediately disintegrated.

This obviously wasn’t what he’d hoped for, but we’re often disappointed when we make choices based on outward appearances. The bad guys didn’t consider that the cup had no value in and of itself. Its value was in the contents; even then, it wasn’t really the contents that mattered. After all, that was only grape juice (or in the case of the movie, water). The significance of the cup was what its contents symbolized – the blood Jesus shed to forgive our sins and mend our relationship with God (Matthew 26: 27-29; Colossians 1: 20; Isaiah 59: 2; Romans 3: 21-26).

Making choices based on outward appearances isn’t new. Israel wanted a king like the nations around them had (1 Samuel 8: 1-5). They saw only the outward appearance of joy and prosperity without concern for the hidden cost of administration and, more importantly, paganism (1 Samuel 8: 10-20). Even Samuel was superficial, taking their request personally; but, God saw the heart of the matter – he was rejected as Israel’s leader (1 Samuel 8: 6-9).

The poor-choice-based-on-outward-appearances trend continued in selecting the new king (1 Samuel 9: 1, 2, 15-17). Sure, God did the choosing, but he gave the people what they wanted – a king like the nations around them had. Eventually, Saul began doing what the kings around them did – setting an example of disregard for God and leading his people into disobedience (1 Samuel 15: 1-26, for example).

God lets us have our own way even when it’s not in our best interest (Joshua 24: 14, 15; Luke 15: 11-32). Still, he usually gives us time to come to our senses before our poor choices do eternal harm, but there is a daily time limit (2 Corinthians 6: 2; James 4: 14).
While God allowed Saul to continue on the throne for approximately 15 more years, he’d already chosen Israel’s next king and sent Samuel to anoint him (1 Samuel 15: 28-16: 6). Although Samuel was still looking at outward appearances and David was not a bad looking young man, God had chosen him based on what was in his heart (1 Samuel 16: 7-13; Acts 13: 21-23; 10: 34, 35).

Choices made based on superficial characteristics will almost always disappoint us because of what we give up (Hebrews 10: 34-39; 11: 24-28; 12: 15-17; 1 Corinthians 2: 9; John 6: 26, 27). When we make decisions based on intrinsic value, we’ll come to see that there’s an outward beauty as well (1 Peter 3: 1-4; Psalm 149: 4).

Our heart, the spiritual center of our physical body leads us in good or bad behavior (Matthew 15: 17-19; 6: 22, 23; 12: 35; Acts 8: 20-23). When our heart is in tune with God’s will, our whole person will serve God, which is the least he’ll settle for (Numbers 32: 11, 12; Malachi 1: 6-14; Isaiah 42: 8). When we give ourselves to God from the heart rather than serving him only out of fear or duty, our outward appearance will be a reflection of God himself and we’ll be more blessed experiencing the joy God wants us to have (2 Corinthians 3: 16-18; 4: 6, 7, 16; 1 John 4: 18; 2 Corinthians 9: 7, 8; Matthew 7: 21-23; Romans 12: 1, 2; 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18).
Oh yeah, what was the line from the movie that I like? I really can’t do it justice with mere words, but the knight looked at the others with a seemingly righteous countenance and said almost as with a southern drawl, “He chose, poorly.” God will use different wording when we stand before him (2 Corinthians 5: 10; Matthew 25: 14-31).

After the bad guy disintegrated, Indiana Jones chose a cup that looked like it’d been through some work and after he drank form it, the knight said, “He chose wisely.” While we cant’ do works to attain salvation, there is a work God requires that will be demonstrated in outward appearances – action that flows from the heart (John 6: 28, 29; Hebrews 11: 6; James 2: 14-26; Romans 6: 1-7, 17, 18; Colossians 2: 9-12; Hebrews 9: 14; Ephesians 2: 4-10).

What criterion do you use in making choices?

 Leonard Lauriault, church of Christ