Well, he loves us too much for that - so, after making us his own, he gives us the ability to make some decisions. Realize, this is not something to take lightly. The decisions we make have a pretty profound impact on who we become. Thankfully, God gives us some guidance.
In Philippians 3, God's word gives us a great decision making matrix as Paul explains what drives him in life. He starts by saying what shouldn't be factors in our decisions: "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord... I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8). You see, Paul had been talking about all his accomplishments in right living and religious obedience - and then says it is all worthless in the light of what Jesus has done for him.
It might sound simplistic, but apply it. When you are making your decisions, ask yourself why you're thinking about it. What are your goals? Should those things be your goals? Like a sprinter wouldn't think of looking back in the middle of the race or a basketball player dare not look in the stands as he's shooting a free throw - Paul says not to get distracted by the things that really don't matter. How? Realize what those distractions are. Realize what everything else is.
Rubbish, Paul says. Literally, it's the word used to describe what you scoop up behind your dog. And he's throwing into this category anything that isn't "knowing Christ" more. So that means that when we are making decisions - our pride or ego, our work, our friends, our success and work ethic, our relationships, even our family are junk compared to growing closer to my God.
I know I've sometimes focused on what doesn't matter. Have you? Living in this materialistic society, living with my prideful heart, it is easy to make decisions based on all sorts of other criteria. But today, Paul says the only way to do it is to "want to know Christ...and be found in him, not having a righteousness that is my own that comes from the law, but righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."
You see, all the factors that deal with me have to do with my righteousness - which is garbage. If my "righteousness isn't perfect, it's worthless - so Paul points us to the perfect righteousness God gives us through the work of Jesus Christ.
So, make your decisions - forgetting about what doesn't matter - but focusing on what does. Remember Jesus. Remember God's love. Remember that righteousness that you couldn't accomplish, but he did and gave to you. And when your goal is the prize Christ has already won - your decisions become easy. No sleep, no hobby, no job, no person is more important than time with Jesus.
Jesus sacrificed his life to pay your price and give you the guarantee of heaven. Live with that in mind and there really won't be so many hard decisions. God bless your living for him!
The Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.