Friday, May 10, 2024

Bad Choice #1 or Bad Choice #2...

Suggested Reading: Ezra 9:1-5, 10:1-6

If you hang around me long, you will discover that I am a big Sci-Fi fan. My wife likes to say, "He watches anything that starts with Star…Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate…" Well, there is an episode in the last season of Star Trek: The Next Generation called "The Pegasus." In that episode, we discover that Commander Riker, as a young man, supported his first captain in developing illegal technology. When their ship was lost in an accident, he thought that the incident was forgotten. But when his old captain showed up announcing that they had found the lost ship (and the illegal technology it probably still contained), Riker was faced with two bad choices - admit his own part in the crime and thus betray his old captain or keep his mouth shut and allow the crime to continue anew. When Riker finally admitted to what he had been a part of, he wished that he had done the right thing in the first place and not aided his old captain in breaking the law.

The Israelites found themselves in a similar situation in the book of Ezra. Ezra had been sent by King Artaxerxes to oversee the rebuilding of the Temple and to serve as governor for the Israelites. In Ezra chapters 9-10, it is brought to Ezra's attention that the Israelites, including the priests, have been intermarrying with the other peoples of the land who worshiped idols and practiced religious abominations.  Intermarrying had been strictly forbidden because God did not want the Israelites introduced to these hated religious practices and the worship of idols. So, now the people were faced with two bad choices; 1)  get rid of these foreign wives they shouldn't have married in the first place and break up their families or 2) continue allowing idol worship to happen in their homes (keeping the wives and stopping the idol worship didn't seem to be an option).  What would you have done in their place? Given two bad choices, which one would you choose? Toss your spouse (and, apparently, children) out in the cold? Or continue living in sin?

We find ourselves in similar circumstances all the time. Having messed up somewhere along the way, now we have to make the best of a bad situation and choose between two bad options. Having made bad financial decisions, we have to choose between paying our tithe and being late on bills or paying our bills and stealing from God. Having chosen to engage in pre-marital sex and create a child, we now have to choose between giving our child up for adoption or bringing it into a less than ideal home-life. Having chosen not to study, we now have to choose between cheating or getting a bad grade on our test.

Instead of wrestling with those bad choices, however, we do have another option. We can do the right thing in the first place. Just like Commander Riker wished he could have done, we can choose, up front, to do the right thing. It may be hard or even painful, but it saves us the agony of facing two bad choices down the road and of knowing we could have avoided the entire situation by doing the right thing in the first place. What choices are you faced with today? Are you tempted to ignore what you know to be right based on what is easier or more desirable? Do the right thing, it will save you heartache down the road. 

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