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Choose This, Not That

Choose This, Not That – No third option (Amos 5:14-15)

Today’s Reading:  Amos 1-5

Today’s Reflection:  Amos 5:14-15

14) Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said.  15) Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Amos, as simple farmer, was called by God to prophesy to Israel and Judah during a time of unprecedented prosperity.  Unfortunately, prosperity always seemed to coincide with disobedience to God and disregard for His instructions.  Sin, lack of concern and care for the poor, idolatry, sexual immorality and more had become common practice among the children of Israel.  So Amos warned Israel, Judah and the neighboring nations of the judgments God proclaimed against them and the punishment that would surely follow.

But as always, God’s judgments and punishments came with a purpose: to call His people back to their covenant with Him.  In chapter 5, Amos outlines God’s plea for reconciliation.  Along with God’s abundant mercy and forgiveness (His desire to be ‘gracioius to the remnant of Joseph’), this passage makes clear that there was a choice for the children of Israel to make, a choice between good and evil.  We have the same choice to make today.

Throughout the Bible, God and His messengers talk explicitly about the ultimate blessings of a relationship with God and obedience to His ways being eternal life, and the tragic penalty of a life lived without God being eternal destruction.  But somehow Israel and Judah believed they had created a third option: the idea that fidelity in life could be split between obedience to God sometimes, and chasing one’s own carnal desires sometimes.  A life that appeared just righteous enough to be aligned with God, but that also justified habitual sin.

We sometimes get caught up in trying to create our own third option.  We think if we can adhere to the right spiritual formula—read the right books, attend the right church, sing the right songs, hold our hands just so during worship—that it somehow blots out whatever we do the rest of the time, that other parts of our lives are blocked from man’s scrutiny and God’s judgment.

Matthew 23:28 – So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

The truth is, there is no third option.  Selective obedience is disobedience.

Don’t think that God is a dictator who must have His own way.  Instead recognize that He has designed existence to function under certain laws—moral as well as physical—for the benefit of all life.  The idea that there is a life to be lived in disobedience to the ways of God is itself a fallacy akin to trying to live in defiance of the laws gravity or thermodynamics.  Allowing us to exist in a sinful state is an act of mercy God allows to give us the opportunity to accept His gift of grace—eternal life in Jesus Christ—and to eventually win victory over sin.

Genesis 4:7 –If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Romans 8:37 –No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Real life is tied up in God and His ways.  Your true identity and your most fulfilled existence is wrapped up in relationship with Him.  So choose God’s way.  Choose life.

John 10:10 –The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

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