The Bible’s Viewpoint
How Should We Use Our Freedom of Choice?
GOD endowed the first humans, Adam and Eve, with the ability to make their own choices. He put Adam in charge of the garden of Eden. Adam’s duties included selecting names for the animals. (Genesis 2:15, 19) More important, Adam and Eve could decide whether to obey God or not.—Genesis 2:17, 18.
Since then, people have made countless billions of decisions—many of them good, some unfortunate, and others totally evil. Some of man’s bad choices have yielded disastrous results. Still, God has never interfered with our right to choose. As a loving Father, God provides us with help in making good decisions through the pages of the Bible. He also warns us about the consequences of making wrong choices. The Bible says that we will reap what we sow.—Galatians 6:7.
Decisions in Personal Matters
On some matters God clearly expresses his will, providing us with specific direction. On most matters, however, the Bible does not set rules to govern all of our personal affairs. Instead, it gives broad guidance that allows for individual tastes and desires. For example, notice what it says about recreation.
The Scriptures call Jehovah “the happy God.” (1 Timothy 1:11) His Word speaks of “a time to laugh” and “a time to skip about.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4) The Bible tells us that King David played music for the benefit of others. (1 Samuel 16:16-18, 23) Jesus attended a wedding feast, and he added to the occasion by changing water into wine.—John 2:1-10.
However, the Bible aptly warns: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Proverbs 13:20) “Obscene jesting” and immoral activities offend God and can ruin our relationship with him. (Ephesians 5:3-5) When alcohol flows without proper restraint at social events, serious problems can result. (Proverbs 23:29-35; Isaiah 5:11, 12) Jehovah God also hates violence.—Psalm 11:5; Proverbs 3:31.
These Bible verses help us to see recreation as God does. In making choices, Christians take the Bible into consideration. Of course, all of us will face the good or bad consequences of our own choices.—Galatians 6:7-10.
In a similar fashion, Christians are encouraged to make wise decisions in line with Bible principles in such matters as clothing, marriage, parenthood, and business dealings. These include matters not specifically mentioned in the Scriptures, yet principles found therein help them to make decisions based on conscience. (Romans 2:14, 15) The following standard should apply in all personal decisions made by Christians: “Whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory.”—1 Corinthians 10:31.
On this subject we also do well to consider the principle of ‘minding our own business.’ (1 Thessalonians 4:11) Christians are often confronted with several choices that do not conflict with God’s will. Hence, the preference of one Christian may differ from that of others. It would displease God to see his servants judging one another. (James 4:11, 12) The Bible wisely counsels: “Let none of you suffer . . . as a busybody in other people’s matters.”—1 Peter 4:15.
The Decision to Serve God
The Bible highlights the benefits of obedience to God. Still, God does not coerce people into worshiping him. Rather, he invites his human creatures to become his worshipers. For instance, the Bible says: “O come in, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before Jehovah our Maker.”—Psalm 95:6.
Such an invitation was given to ancient Israel. Over 3,500 years ago, the nation of Israel stood before Mount Sinai, and God introduced those millions of people to the system of true religion embodied in the Mosaic Law. They now had a choice to make: Would they serve God or not? How did they respond? Unitedly they said: “All that Jehovah has spoken we are willing to do and be obedient.” (Exodus 24:7) The decision to worship Jehovah was their own.
In the first century, Jesus initiated the preaching of the good news of God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 4:17; 24:14) He never coerced anyone to join in this work. Rather, he kindly invited others, saying: “Come be my follower.” (Mark 2:14; 10:21) Many accepted his invitation and began preaching with him. (Luke 10:1-9) After a time, some chose to leave Jesus. Judas chose to betray him. (John 6:66; Acts 1:25) Later, under apostolic guidance, many more individuals became disciples, not at the point of a sword, but by use of their free will. They were “rightly disposed” and “became believers.” (Acts 13:48; 17:34) Today, too, true Christians willingly obey God’s Word and follow the teachings of Jesus.
Clearly, God desires that we use our ability to make choices. He also provides guidance in the Bible that helps us to make wise decisions. (Psalm 25:12) In the realm of personal decisions, each Christian should carefully consider godly principles. Only in that way can we render to God ‘sacred service with our power of reason.’—Romans 12:1.