Today’s sermon should be the companion of last Sunday’s sermon.
One of the most important ways we are created in God’s image and likeness is that we are created free. We have been given Freedom of choice.
Freedom of choice is a great gift but also a great responsibility.
As is nicely illustrated in the Book of Genesis by the story of Adam and Eve and the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They freely chose to eat this fruit and opened a can of worms. They now had to live with the consequences of their choice.
It is a well worth exercise for me to look back on my life at the choices I made and the resulting consequences. It is a well worth exercise to take the latter into account when making my everyday little and big choices.
To quote Shakespeare – ‘To be, or not to be; that is the question.’
It is these little everyday free choices that make me a good or a bad person. – To get angry or hold my temper, to say something nasty or something kind, to lie or stick to the truth, to act with greed or with consideration for others, to push my way forward or give way to another, to boast or to keep my mouth shut, to think just about myself or take others into consideration, to be patient or openly impatient etc.
Little free choices; but they mould the sort of person I am and will be in he future. All the above has to do with using the gifts my God has given me in the right way – I have the freedom of choice, just like Adam and Eve.
For the rest of my life I will live with the fruit of these choices. To quote the Book of Proverbs; ‘As you sow, so shall you reap.’
So by and large I am directly responsible for the sort of person I am.
On the other hand, to quote Nelson Mandela “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”
Unfortunately many human beings learn to hate rather than love, learn to abuse rather than respect, to steal rather than live honestly, to lie rather than speak truth etc. This learning can come from parents, grandparents, family, friends, tribe, nationality etc.
With all this in mind we can see why some of the last words of Jesus on the cross were; ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’
It is only in recent years that we have begun to discover many of the emotional, psychological, mental and physical disabilities which burden many of us. Understanding, treating and curing many of these conditions is still in the distant future.
In short I am in almost complete ignorance as to why people do or say bad things.
To some extent the same can be said as regards my own motivation.
Why people are motivated or compelled to speak or act in the way they do, is known, in its entirety, to God alone. For me the words of Jesus in Luke 6; 36 – 37 must be my guide; ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.’