Introduction

  1. Text: Eccl. 12:14.
  2. Our age tends to blur the distinction between good and evil.
  3. In the Scriptures, however, there is not only a distinction between good and evil, but also between good and evil people. Those who submit to God are clearly distinguished from those who reject Him – Rom. 2:6-8; 6:16. Cf. Mal. 3:18.
  4. But no one is born with an evil character — so if some people end up having a character more evil than that of others, it’s worth asking how that happened. How do people get to be the way they are?

I. Our Characters Are The Accumulation of the Decisions We Have Made

  1. When we’re dissatisfied with our present state, it’s tempting to blame circumstances beyond our control — we tend to think we would be better off if we had been “dealt a better hand.”
  2. Yet we are each the product of decisions that we have made in the freedom of our wills.
    1. We have voluntarily thought, spoken, and done the things that have made us what we are.
    2. Our character is built up not from our external circumstances, but from what we have chosen to do with those.
      1. Contrast Saul with David – 1 Sam. 13:14; 15:28.
      2. David was a better man than Saul — not because of better circumstances, but because he had made better choices.
  3. We need to accept responsibility for what we have made of ourselves.
    1. We are what we’ve chosen to be — we are self-made persons.
    2. We will reap what we have sown – Gal. 6:7.
  4. But the thing about choices is that they have a cumulative effect — they tend to “snowball.”
    1. Even “little” choices are more significant than we might think.
    2. Every decision and every act change a person — one is never exactly the same after making any choice.
    3. Future choices have to be made by a person who has been shaped by the choices already made – e.g. Dan. 6:10.
    4. With every one of even the slightest deeds, we are building up a “self” that will find it progressively more easy to act in certain ways and more difficult to act in others.
  5. None of us is standing still — with every choice we are becoming more like God or more like Satan. Cf. Jn. 8:47.
  6. Contrast Eph. 4:17-19 with Heb. 5:14.

II. It Is Sobering to Think That Every Act Counts

  1. God will take every act into account in His judging of our lives.
    1. No decision is too small to be significant.
    2. “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Mt. 12:36).
  2. Like children on the playground, we may want to say “That didn’t count” or “I had my fingers crossed” — but when God judges our lives, no such excuses will be accepted.
  3. We may think we are merely being careless or haphazard, but the consequences of our choices are eternal and we are responsible for them.
  4. Hell will not be the arbitrary punishment of people who engaged in certain acts.
    1. It will be the telos (“end, goal, outcome”) of those acts, the inevitable consequence of our choices.
    2. “But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end (telos) of those things is death” (Rom. 6:21).
  5. God will not inadvertently or mistakenly consign anyone to eternal punishment.
    1. Only those will be there who demanded to be there by the choices they made.
    2. And few, if any, of those will be people who set out to be wicked.
    3. “Sooner or later, we must all sit down to a banquet of consequences” (Robert Louis Stevenson).
  6. It is dangerous and detrimental ever to say no to God — even once. Cf. Heb. 12:25.

III. It Is Also Encouraging to Think That Every Act Counts

  1. We can never truly say that our lives are helpless or hopeless — we can always do something that will do good.
    1. In spiritual matters, there is really no such thing as a stalemate.
    2. We need the youthful confidence of David in 1 Sam. 17:26.
    3. We can make choices that will truly alter the present situation for good.
  2. We can act in the faith that steps in the direction of goodness and truth, however small and seemingly insignificant, do make a difference. Cf. Mk. 12:41-44.
    1. God does not require larger steps than we can take, only small steps taken in faith.
    2. God is not looking for people who can do everything, but for those willing to do what they can!
  3. Heaven will be the outcome if we learn to choose actions that tend in God’s direction. Cf. Rom. 6:23.

Conclusion

  1. Life is serious business — it pays to live carefully – Eph. 5:15.
    1. Let’s be SOBERED by the fact that each action reaches into eternity, and we must take responsibility for the bad choices we have made.
    2. But let’s also be ENCOURAGED knowing that we can make a difference for good even in “small” acts of faith.
  2. In all things, let’s be grateful for the opportunity to make better choices today. Cf. 1 Cor. 15:10.

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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