DO YOU HAVE ANY REAL CHOICE IN WHAT YOUR FUTURE WILL BE? Some people believe that fate or predestination, not personal choice, controls their life. When they fail to reach certain goals, they simply shrug it off as inevitable. “It was never meant to be!” they say.
Others become disillusioned when they see no way out of this oppressive and unjust world in which we live. They may have tried to make their lives better—only to see things like war, crime, natural disasters, and sickness wreck their plans time and again. ‘Why bother?’ they ask themselves.
It is true that circumstances in life can seriously affect your plans. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) However, when it comes to your ultimate destiny, you do have a very real choice. In fact, the Bible shows that your future depends on your choice. Consider what it says.
Moses, the leader of the ancient nation of Israel, told the people as they were about to enter the Promised Land: “I have put life and death before you, the blessing and the curse; and you must choose life so that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving Jehovah your God, by listening to his voice, and by sticking to him.”—Deuteronomy 30:15, 19, 20.
“I have put life and death before you, the blessing and the curse; and you must choose life.”—Deuteronomy 30:19
Yes! God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and put before them the prospect of a free and happy life in the Promised Land. But all that would not come upon them automatically. To gain those blessings, they had to “choose life.” How? ‘By loving God, by listening to his voice, and by sticking to him.’
Today, a similar choice is before you, and how you choose will determine what your future will be. By choosing to love God, to listen to his voice, and to stick to him, you will in effect be choosing life—life everlasting on a paradise earth. But what is involved in each of those steps?
CHOOSE TO LOVE GOD
Love is God’s primary attribute. “God is love,” wrote the apostle John under inspiration. (1 John 4:8) For this reason, when asked what is the greatest of all commandments, Jesus said: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.” (Matthew 22:37) A real relationship with Jehovah God must be based, not on fear or blind obedience, but on love. Why, though, should we choose to love him?
Jehovah’s love for mankind is like that of loving parents for their children. Though imperfect, loving parents instruct, encourage, support, and discipline their children because they want them to be happy and to flourish. What do parents desire in return? They want their children to love them and to take to heart what they as parents have imparted to them for their good. Is it not reasonable that our perfect heavenly Father expects us to show loving appreciation for all that he has done for us?
LISTEN TO HIS VOICE
In the original language of the Bible, the word “listen” often carries the sense of “obey.” Is this not what we mean when we say to a child, “Listen to your parents”? Thus, to listen to God’s voice implies learning and obeying what he says. Since we cannot literally hear God’s voice, we listen to him by reading and applying what is in his Word, the Bible.—1 John 5:3.
To show the importance of listening to God’s voice, on one occasion Jesus said: “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every word that comes from Jehovah’s mouth.” (Matthew 4:4) As important as physical food is to us, taking in knowledge of God is, in fact, even more so. Why? Wise King Solomon explained: “Wisdom is a protection just as money is a protection, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves the life of its owner.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12) Knowledge and wisdom from God can protect us today and help us to make the wise choice that leads to everlasting life in the future.
STICKING TO HIM
Recall Jesus’ illustration that we considered in the preceding article, in which he said: “Narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are finding it.” (Matthew 7:13, 14) Traveling on such a road, we would surely benefit from having and staying close to an expert guide if we wanted to reach the destination—life everlasting. Thus, there is good reason for us to stay close to God. (Psalm 16:8) How, though, do we do that?
Every day, there are many things that we must do and many more that we would like to do. Such things can keep us so occupied or distracted that we have little or no time to consider what God wants us to do. That is why the Bible reminds us: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, making the best use of your time, because the days are wicked.” (Ephesians 5:15, 16) We stay close to God by making our relationship with him the most important thing in our life.—Matthew 6:33.
THE CHOICE IS YOURS
Though there is nothing you can do to change your past, you can choose to secure a fine future for yourself and your loved ones. The Bible reveals that our heavenly Father, Jehovah God, deeply loves us and that he lets us know what he would like to see us do. Note the words of the prophet Micah:
“He has told you, O man, what is good. And what is Jehovah requiring of you? Only to exercise justice, to cherish loyalty, and to walk in modesty with your God!”—Micah 6:8.
Will you accept Jehovah’s invitation to walk with him and gain the eternal blessings he has in store for those who do? The choice is yours!