Joshua 24:14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
The freedom to choose could only have come from The God of love who has granted to all the gift of intelligence and individual decision making. As stated in the above passage, this freedom comes with some basic responsibilities which should be clearly understood by all members of the human family. When Joshua reiterated to the Hebrews the fact that they were free to choose whom they would serve, he mentioned some of the other gods they once followed in the land of Egypt, intimating that the results of their choices back then were slavery and subjugation by pharaoh and his hosts. That's why Joshua bids them to consider and reason from cause to effect, and if in so doing they erroneously came to the conclusion that it was evil to serve God, then the other option was before them, and they could again choose the bondage of false gods, from whom they were rescued earlier by the interposition of God.
This format of presenting the truths of God's word, and then allowing each person to decide for themselves, must always be followed by Christians as we endeavor to evangelize and win souls for Christ. Furthermore, in accordance with the spirit of The God whom we serve, we are to recognize and respect the choices of others, even though we may not be in agreement with those choices. This is the genius of the gospel, in that it offers freedom and emancipation from sin to all who are willing, yet recognizes the fact that individuals retain their God-given freedom to choose good or evil. A general misunderstanding of this sacred truth has led some Christians who are in public office to try and force their agenda on unwilling minds, and because of their deep convictions that are sometimes based on the word of God, they have tried to institute laws and statutes that could severely inhibit our freedom to choose.
Some have tried to force prayer in schools and public places, whilst others have tried to force the celebration of Christmas and other religious holidays on those who are not interested, or are dead set in their opposition to anything of a religious nature. In our attempts to fulfill the great commission, it is necessary that we ever keep the example of God before our faces, so that we may deal with our fellowmen in like currency.
When Cain sinned against God by slaying his brother Abel, God appeared to him and told him what the dire consequences of his actions would be. In response, Cain stated that the curse would make him vulnerable to everyone who sought to slay him, and the sacred record gives us God's response, by stating that God put a mark upon Cain, lest any one finding him should try to slay him. Let's read:
Genesis 4:13 And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. 15 And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
The very next verse in the Bible tells us that Cain then turned his back on God permanently, and his decision to live in rebellion against the sacred statutes was never afterward reversed, yet God never withdrew His protection from Cain, for he went on to live several hundred years upon the face of the earth. Let's read:
Genesis 4:16 And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of nod, on the east of Eden.
In our zeal to spread the good news of salvation to those we come in contact with, let us therefore be sensitive to the fact that God has given every person the freedom of choice, and we should be content to let them use this freedom in a manner they deem best, without coercing or infringing their freedoms, and without withholding kindness and due considerations from them, just as God treated Cain. We therefore end with a passage of scripture which shows us the importance of allowing each person their free choice to serve God, and may we remember to follow where Christ leads the way. Let's read:
1st Kings 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
May God add His blessing to the study and practice of His word. "Good night" and God bless!