God gave man authority to function on planet earth. Through the propitiation of the Lord Jesus, He freed man from wrath (1 John 2:2). It is as if He created a level playing field for all men and said, Now you choose life, you choose blessings, you choose to live according to the promises I have given. If you believe what I have done, you will make choices based on my word. If you do not, you will make excuses!
It is simultaneously terribly intimidating and incredibly freeing to realize that we have the authority (right) to choose the life we desire. To accept this responsibility means we have no one to blame, it means we cannot create mystical blame-shifting doctrines. Most of all it means we can make changes in our lives today! Really think about that. What if this is true? What if it is within your power to change the quality of your life? If this is true, what will you do?
Everyone who has ever lived has struggled with the question, “Why does it go well for some and badly for others?” Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, pondered that very question. “For I considered all this in my heart, so that I could declare it all: that the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God. People know neither love nor hatred by anything they see before them.
All things come alike to all: One event happens to the righteous and the wicked; To the good, the clean, and the unclean; To him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. I returned and saw under the sun that The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:1,2,11, NKJV). If this concept was a challenge for Solomon, it is understandable that we would struggle with the same issue. But we have the mind of Christ! We have the promises of God. We have His Word as a light and His Spirit as a teacher. We don’t have to live in such archaic confusion!
We have been delivered from the curse and qualified for the promises (Galatians 3:13, 2 Corinthians 1:20). We should be able to understand this clearly. The same opportunities come to all men. Some will see and seize the opportunities while others will not. The consequential outcome is not evidence of the favor or disfavor of God, but of the choices of man. I was recently pondering some unfavorable situations in my life. In the end I had to ask only one question: Are these consequences worth the decision I made that got me here? I can’t solve my problem if I will not accept responsibility for my choices.
Yes, there were other people involved. Yes, other people created and contributed to the problem but I chose how I would respond to the problem. These are situations where I made godly decisions that had some negative repercussions. And yes, I can live with this outcome better than I could live with a more comfortable circumstance and a hardened heart! The point is this: God is not arbitrarily determining my circumstance. I am!
Favor is not an abstract blessing that comes upon men because they do enough religious duty to earn God’s benevolence. Some people seem to think that we can live irresponsibly, make bad decisions, and God will cause people to like us. We have twisted the word of God to all manner of complicated formulas and rituals. But the ultimate question is, “Do I believe God’s Word enough to put it into practice?”