Americans in the twenty-first century live in a country averse to personal responsibility. Everything is someone or something else’s fault and the phrase “I had no choice” is one of the most common explanations for the decisions made. It needs to once again be ingrained in the minds of our families, communities, and government that mankind always has a choice. It may not always be an easy choice, and the right choice may not always be the popular one, but there are always options for every situation. Consider three Biblical examples of those who refused to say “I had no choice.”
Joseph refused to say it after the advances of Potiphar’s wife. In Genesis 39 Joseph has captivated the attention of the wife of his master. As she continues her advances toward him, there would have been many who would have thrown up their hands, said “I have no choice” and acceded to her wishes. Instead, Joseph responds in verse 9 by saying, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” When he runs from the house leaving his garment in her hand (Vs. 12) he seals his departure for the prison cells of Egypt. Yet Joseph recognized he had a choice between righteousness and pleasing his employer: he chose righteousness.
Daniel is another example of one who would not acquiesce to his captors when they placed before him that which was unlawful. In Daniel 1, he and his companions are presented with meat from the king that would have defiled them by being unclean (Vs. 8). Daniel could have simply said, “I have no choice” and devoured whatever was placed before him. Instead, Daniel proposes a challenge whereby he and his companions receive only vegetables and water for 10 days to see which group comes out in better condition. Daniel, of course, comes out on top, and in the process found a way to not violate the laws of God. Daniel recognized he had a choice between keeping God’s law or caving to his captors; he chose God’s law, and the captors came around to his viewpoint.
In the New Testament the apostles would have had ample opportunity to use the, “I have no choice” excuse. In Acts 5 they are brought before the Jewish Sanhedrin and asked whether or not they remembered being commanded not to teach in the name of Jesus (Vs. 28)? The apostles could have, after the initial rebuke, simply said, “We have no choice” and gone on about their previous lives. Instead they answered the Sanhedrin with their own form of the statement when Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Vs. 29). The apostles had a choice: continue proclaiming the truth, or allow the government to shut them up. In response they said there was only one true option, to obey God and proclaim his will.
There is always a choice and there is always a correct answer to a dilemma. The greatest test of a Christian’s faith is not how he or she reacts when the right choice is obvious, easy, and unobstructed; but how Christians react when the right choice is difficult, hard, and not easily seen. There will be times in every Christian’s life where the desirable decision will be the wrong one, and the much harder and less physically rewarding decision will be correct. Will we have the courage to take personal responsibility for our actions, look man square in the eye and say, “I choose right” instead of, “I had no choice?” We answer that question every day by the decisions we make, the entertainment in which we partake, the rules by which we live, and the character we exhibit. May we never be found to make the excuse, “I had no choice.”