What Can We Control?
We might not be able to control our circumstances, but we can control our actions and responses. We always have that choice. “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right” (Prov. 20:11). That is not only true of children but all of us. Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits…A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit…Therefore, by their fruit you will know them” (Matt. 7:16-20). We have a choice regarding the way we live. Circumstances may be beyond our control, but we can choose how to live in the circumstances we are placed in.
Consider Saul of Tarsus. He had everything going his way. By his own admission none of his peers excelled him. He also acknowledges that it was by his own conscience that he persecuted people of The Way. He was in control of his circumstances. Until…until the day he was travelling to Damascus to further persecute Christians. Suddenly, his circumstances changed. He was struck blind, and his life changed forever. Now, he cannot change the circumstances, but he can choose how to respond. He responds, “Who are you, Lord? Lord, what would you have me to do?” That response is life-changing. He chose to follow the Lord!
By contrast, consider Demas. When we first meet him, Paul calls him a fellow-laborer. As Paul writes his last letter, he pens these heart-breaking words: “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.” (2nd Timothy 4:10, NJKV) We do not know what his circumstances were, but we know his choice. By his actions and his choice, he not only left Paul when he was needed badly, he also left the Lord for the love of the world. Demas did much damage to the cause of Christ by leaving Him for the world.
Two men and two completely different choices. Both had an impact on the world and the gospel of Christ. We are no different than Saul of Tarsus or Demas. Our choices and our actions can positively affect the gospel of Christ or hinder it. We may think these things, even the little things we do in response to our circumstances, do not matter. They matter! In fact, when we speak of Saul, we refer to him as Paul. Demas is never spoken of. We name our boys Paul. No one names their son Demas. See, choices matter even beyond our lifetime. Our choices matter to the Lord. They make a difference with our influence concerning the gospel. They also impact the lives of others.
What do my actions and my responses say about me? What do they say to others? People notice.