We make hundreds of choices each day. From the moment our feet hit the floor, we are making decisions. What shall I put in my coffee? Dress pants or jeans? Flats or heels? Exercise today or put it off again? Breakfast or no breakfast? And this continues until the moment you close your eyes and end the day.
Some are big choices, like buy a car or take that new job. However, smaller choices can have significant consequences, as well. Our minute, small decisions add up to big results. For example, I struggle with weight. Being ordered to stay home heaped on top of the stress of uncertainty in the world crushes my resolve to lose weight. The result? Ten pounds. Little by little, bite after bite, I added unnoticed weight. What? How did that happen?
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis describes how small decisions become the enemy’s foothold:
Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the decisions you and make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. A trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.
What Mr. Lewis means is that the smallest act today becomes either a victory later down the road or a place where the enemy can launch attacks.
I thought about this in relation to my lockdown eating. Every cookie I indulged in one day became a pound or so in a week. One small choice affected the future. Also, that week later, after the many cookie choices, the enemy whispered in my ear what a weak, broken, God-can’t-love-you loser I had become. From victory to defeat.
We become the result of our choices.
I can’t help but think of David, a man after God’s own heart. He was the king. He had endured great difficulties to be king. Anointed as a boy shepherd, it would be nearly fifteen years before he became king after Saul’s death. God chose him. He worshiped God. No man was more devout. Until he spied Bathsheba from the rooftop.
The small choices that led to this life-changing moment started earlier. It was fighting season, David, as the leader of his army, should have been out fighting with his men. Instead, he stayed home where it was comfortable and safe. That’s where it starts when we get comfortable and safe. We tell ourselves just this once won’t hurt. But one choice on top of choice leads to consequences.
David wasn’t looking for trouble. He was just getting a little air on the roof of his palace, enjoying a sunny day. And Bathsheba was just enjoying a bath in the house below. Hey, Bathsheba, close the curtain!
David’s choice led to several decisions that became David’s downfall. An unexpected pregnancy led to a scheme to give Uriah credit. When that plan failed, David manipulated Uriah’s death. No one would know, he believed. God knows.
With the stern help of the prophet Nathan, David eventually admitted his sin. God forgave his sins, but David and his whole household would suffer the consequences.
My sweet-eating decisions are small compared to David’s decision to take a walk on the roof, but they do have consequences. I have ten pounds to prove it. Gratefully, I don’t have to stay on this ridge where the enemy attacks. God grants us grace to make new choices.
What can we do to effect change, to compound good instead of evil?
If you have made not so good choices, and now wonder what to do about it, here are five easy decisions to make today that will affect tomorrow.
After Nathan confronted David, he finally admitted his sin started with his bad choice. He begged forgiveness. He cried out to God for relief from his guilt and shame. Admitting to God, we have made bad choices, whether eating sweets or infidelity, is a vital step in changing the direction of future decisions. We read how David cries out to God in Psalm 51, For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. (v. 3, 4 NLT) Admitting our sin and asking forgiveness clears the way for change.
Need to know how to go forward? Pray. James 1:5 says, If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (NLT) Prayer connects us straight to God, our source of wisdom and strength. David, despite his transgressions, was a man of prayer and praise. He prayed for strength, protection, wisdom, and forgiveness.
What small step can you do today toward that end? In his book, Atomic Habits, author James Clear contends that if you change your habits by just a fraction, one percent, in time you will see a big change. Today, can you skip that extra cookie, not buy that pair of shoes, read the Bible five minutes more? If you can make one small decision today for the better, you will experience change in no time. Today is the best day to get started.
By the time we figure out that our choices have built a bridge for the enemy’s invasion, he is already on the attack. The road to better choices must be paved with the truth. Replace the enemy’s lies with truth. Put up your shield of faith to extinguish the fiery darts. (Ephesians 6:16) When the enemy whispers, you can’t believe you can do the impossible. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
To decide is to resolve, to take action, and turn away from something. What do you need to turn away from today? Too many sweets, exercise more, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness? Have you lived a life based on the enemy’s lies making choices out of shame and regret? Are you like David? Do you need to pour out your heart, ask forgiveness, then rest in God’s unrelenting grace?
Friends, are you ready to make better choices? Are you prepared to make choices that change your future? Where do you need victory instead of defeat? As Mr. Lewis says, The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. Are you ready to take back the ridge, railway, and bridgehead from the enemy? You decide.
What is it you want to change? Consistent time in prayer? Memorizing God’s Word? What small step or choice can you make today that works toward that goal?
Do you need to forgive someone, let go of anger or bitterness? What step can you take towards that goal?
What keeps you on track when you are trying to make better choices?
Please leave your comments below.