Olsen Park Church of Christ

Making Good Choices

Introduction. (Dan. 6:1-5). Most of us are very familiar with the account in this chapter. It is a moving lesson about courage, faithfulness, and God’s power to save. Tonight I would like for us to consider a little something different. I’d like for us to consider what this account teaches us about making good choices. We all face choices everyday. Many of them are small in nature and don’t have much effect on the course of our life, or the fate of our soul. Others are much more serious. Daniel would be confronted with a very important choice. Tonight let’s consider what his example can teach us about making good choices.

I. Good choices are often difficult to make. We might wish that the best choice is always the easiest choice. That is not always the case. This is true for a number of reasons:

         Good choices may run counter to personal desire. It might feel good to sleep in instead of going to worship God— We might not get the attention from boys we would like if we dress in clothes that are modest—We might want to get that “buzz” from drugs or alcohol to take away stress—It might seem exciting to view pornography. In these cases making a good choice will be difficult.

         Good choices may result in pressure from others. Good choices might be easy if everyone else makes the same choice—What if the good choice is not the popular choice? Then others might make fun of you—be angry with you, or even try to harm you. That is difficult.

         Good choices might lead to hardship or discomfort. Cheating on a test might let you relax and enjoy yourself the night before—doing right means you have to study. Lying on your taxes means that you don’t have to pay as much—telling the truth may cost you money. Going to Bible class might mean that you have to feel guilty if there are things you do that you shouldn’t—skipping class means you don’t have to feel this.

A. Daniel was about to face a choice that could cost him his life (Dan. 6:6-9).

1. How easy if would have been to avoid this danger—he could have just worshipped in a more private way. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I don’t have to be at church every service—I worship God everywhere that I am!”

2. What if it became illegal to worship God? Would we even be in danger of persecution?

3. Many Christians find it very easy to avoid worship anyway. It might be that entertainer we love is in town—that ball game is on today—I need to work that extra shift to pay those bills—I don’t want to upset my boss by asking off for services—This was a busy week—I’m tired—I’m discouraged—Maybe we are upset with other Christians—The list could go on and on. If worshipping God was outlawed would we find excuses to protect ourselves and forsake worshipping God?

B. In spite of the difficulty he chose what was right (Dan. 6:10a).

1. This is a powerful example. If something is right, it is always right.

a. It was hard for Job to continue to serve God—his wife urged him to quit, but his hardship didn’t make it right to do wrong (Job.  2:9-10)

b. It was hard for Joseph to resist Potiphar’s wife. He has suffered unfair treatment. His own family had betrayed him. He was alone. This was perhaps a beautiful woman—who would expect him to resist? But he did what was right anyway! (Gen. 39:9). It led him to imprisonment!  What good did it do? He did what was right.

2. Illustration: During World War II, Winston Churchill was forced to make a painful choice. The British secret service had broken the Nazi code and informed Churchill that the Germans were going to bomb Coventry. He had two alternatives: (1) evacuate the citizens and save hundreds of lives at the expense of indicating to the Germans that the code was broken; or (2) take no action, which would kill hundreds but keep the information flowing and possibly save many more lives. Churchill had to choose and followed the second course.

Klyne Snodgrass, Between Two Truths - Living with
Biblical Tensions,
1990, Zondervan Publishing House, p. 179.

3. We must reject, oppose, and aggressively resist the temptation to think that serving God is only valid if it makes everything in like go smoothly. It will not always be that way. But choosing to serve God is always right (Matt. 7:13-14).

II. Making good choices starts with making good choices. That may sound a little obvious, but think about it—what makes someone decide not to run their hand down the sharp edge of a knife? Perhaps, as a child our parents warn us of the danger. It may be that at some point we make the bad choice to test it, and we cut ourselves. From that point on, what starts the process of good decisions when it comes to using a knife? It starts with the first good choice that says “I am not going to run my hand down the blade of a knife—not because I can’t—not because my parents said not to—I am going to choose what is good for me by my own choice!

A. It was Daniel’s custom since childhood to serve God (Dan. 6:10b).

B. As a young man he chose what was right (Dan. 1:6-21).

1. We are not really told what influenced these young men to do right. We often assume it was good parenting—perhaps, good influences in youth can go a long way to influence later life. It could have been much different. It could be that these young men, when first confronted with this choice decided for themselves “I have to serve God, not man!”

2. We probably don't appreciate the difficulty of this. We think of them as slaves with little choice. Let’s think of it this way—Imagine that a celebrity came to you from Hollywood or New York and said to you...

         Take you to live there and give you a nice expensive apartment.

         Fine clothes, and the latest computer, phone, and technological equipment.

         You will be fed the finest foods, hang out with the most famous and beautiful people.

         ...However, you can’t worship God. You can’t believe in God. You do what everyone else does (whether it is right or wrong). What would you do?

3. Serving God is a personal choice that no one else can make for us (Josh. 24:14-16).

         This involves a choice to obey the gospel to begin with—“Am I willing to look like a strange religious freak (as some people would see it?”

         That will lead us to other choices: Friends we make, jobs we take, who we marry, what we teach our kids, how much money we make, where we live, what we drive, what we do for entertainment—Future good choices start with past good choices.

4. David Russell said, “The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.”

III. Good choices are always found on the side of God. What determines whether a person makes good spiritual choices? Are some people just more naturally suited to do right? In business and leadership matters author Keith Louden considers the question: “What kind of person is best able to involve others and himself in good decision making?”  Louden offers what he believes are seven qualities:

1. The ability to look ahead and see what's coming—foresight.

2. Steadiness, with patience and persistence and courage.

3. A buoyant spirit that in spite of cares generates confidence.

4. Ingeniousness, the ability to solve problems soundly yet creatively.

5. The ability to help others.

6. Righteousness, the willingness to do the right thing and speak the truth.

7. Personal morality of a quality that commands the respect of others.

J. Keith Louden, "Leadership," from the Management Course for Presidents, pp 10-11.

These are some insightful points. There are some good principles here that (in some cases) reflect some very biblical values. Note in particular the first point— The ability to look ahead and see what's coming. When it comes to making good choices spiritually it is all about foresight—being able to look beyond the present to see the consequences of our choices.

A. Enemies of God oppose good choices (Dan. 6:11-15).

1. The ungodly will think good choices are “strange” (1 Pet. 4:1-4).

B. Good choices may not appear to pay at first (Dan. 6:16-18).

1. When Lot chose to move his family to the “cities of the plain” it seemed like a good choice—it was well watered. In the end it turned out to be a place of sin and his family would suffer because of it, when his own wife was turned to a pillar of salt and his daughters were without husbands, when Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed (Gen. 13:10; 19).

C. God ultimately saves those who choose to serve Him (Dan. 6:19-23).

1. “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Prov. 16:25).

2. We have the freedom to make bad choices, but what is the end result of these choices—eternal punishment! It is not worth it.

Conclusion. (Dan. 6:24-28). What if Daniel made a different choice? Whose side would that have placed him on?

         Have you made the good choice to obey the gospel?

         What is hindering you from this choice?

         Whose side are you on because of this choice?

Kyle Pope 2014
Modified from a lesson
by Ken Chapman

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