Let’s take a moment to imagine a game show in which the contestants are given really easy choices to make. Really, really easy choices. Choices which should be so blindingly obvious that only an idiot would choose poorly.
This week, for instance, the lead contestant’s choice is between having a million dollars paid into his bank account each year, every year, beginning in a year, or eating a slice of apple pie right then. And just to make the choice more interesting, the pie is poisoned and sure to bring a slow, painful death over the course of the next few days.
Now let’s take a moment to imagine the contestant choosing the pie. We would all, of course, think him a great fool, but that is what he is going to choose. He is going to forego a lifetime of wealth and eat a pie guaranteed to painfully kill him.
His rationale is that he really, really likes pie; it’s a very good-looking pie; and he’s not sure he’ll be alive in a year anyway.
Most people would think the contestant to be crazy.
And yet, if we were making a spiritual comparison to ourselves, and the choices God gives us, most of us choose to eat the poisoned pie. Moreover, most people look askance at the ones who decide to go for the long-term prize.
For instance, the Bible tells us of a certain man who was given a choice. He could enjoy the luxuries of life immediately. He could be one of the most powerful men of one of the most powerful nations in the world. Or he could give that all up, and choose to leave his position of power, become a wanted fugitive, and be counted amongst a group of people who would be poor in this world, but yet have great spiritual promises for an age yet to come.
Quite a few people would think that choosing the wealth, power and privilege to be the right gamble.
Moses disagreed and chose the other.
We read in the Bible, “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:24-26; NKJV)
Moses understood the real choice he was being given: momentary pleasure which would end badly, or an everlasting heritage.
The pleasures of sin are indeed a poisoned pleasure, for the Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death, and misery is in its path. (cf. Romans 3:16, 6:23) It does looks very tempting at the moment, and it seems, to many, to be the smart choice, but the wise man knows that it’s a lie. Sin is always a bad choice.
God cautions us in His word, “the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:17; NKJV)
The reward that God offers may often be in the future, but it is also guaranteed by the word of God, and God cannot lie. Thus, the apostle Paul reminded Titus that the faith of which he was an apostle, the same faith shared by all of God’s people, was, “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” (Titus 1:2; NKJV)
We don’t have to worry that we won’t be around to get the prize, and thus reason that we might as well eat the pie while we have the chance. God cannot lie, and God says that those who are faithful to Him will be rewarded with eternal riches and everlasting life.
Its not really, when we boil it down to its basics, a hard choice.
So why do most of us tend to make the wrong choice, choosing instant gratification, no matter the consequence, and eschewing the greater reward that is to come. Instead of making the choice that Moses made, forsaking the passing pleasures of sin, we instead follow in the footsteps of Demas, whom Paul lamented “loved this present world,” and thus departed from his place in the faith. (cf. 2 Timothy 4:10)
Whatever the reason, lack of faith, lack of self-control, lack of wisdom… we should recognize that whenever we choose sin over God, we are making a bad choice. A very bad choice.
Let’s be smarter than that and make the choice that Moses made.
The church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.