Choice. It is a gift. And a responsibility. Every day, we have choices in life that we face. Some choices are mundane. What to have for breakfast. Whether to drive or take a bus or train to work.
Other decisions are much more important. Namely, are we going to follow God today or not? And more specifically, are we going to follow God in this moment or not?
Josiah for most of his life made the decision to follow God. He made many wise decisions in leading his people and was a very good king, one of the best in Israel’s history. But one day, for whatever reason, he ignored the voice of God, and it cost him his life.
The king of Egypt had gone out to war, but not against Judah. For some reason, Josiah went out to stop him, and the king of Egypt said,
What quarrel is there between you and me, O king of Judah? It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you. (II Chronicles 35:21)
This he said at God’s command (II Chronicles 35:22). But Josiah failed to heed God’s voice. Why? I don’t know. Pride perhaps. Pride in his army. Pride in his strategy to hide his identity in battle. Pride, perhaps, that God would not speak to a foreign king.
Whatever the reason, however, Josiah fell that day, and Judah’s fall didn’t come long after that.
Sometimes we have days where we know what’s right, but for whatever reason, choose what is wrong. Sometimes we try to justify our actions; other times we don’t even bother to do that. But if there’s a lesson to be learned from Josiah, it’s this: one bad choice can be our undoing. It can be our undoing in our marriage, destroying years of marriage with a single act of unfaithfulness. It can also be our undoing in ministry, destroying years of credibility with one sinful decision. It can be our undoing in many different aspects of life. All it takes is one bad choice.
Of course, God will forgive us if we repent. I believe Josiah went to heaven. God forgave him. But by his one action, his reign came to an end, as did his life.
So let us make the decision, every moment of every day to follow God. And to keep in mind the prayer Jesus taught us.
“Lead us not into temptation.” (Matthew 6:13)