September 25

…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… Joshua 24:15

Human beings have the power of choice; it is this that sets us apart from the animals, who are driven merely by instinct without moral responsibility. The greatest fence-sitter in the Bible was Pontius Pilate, who though he held the office of Roman Procurator and therefore of judge in Jesus’ trial, passed on the decision to the crowds and the Pharisees. When he washed his hands of Jesus, refusing to make any choice, he made the worst possible choice of his entire life. The worst choice we ever make is to claim neutrality, to refuse to make a choice when we are faced with a clear moral decision. Choices come in different forms; daily, we choose what to wear, what to eat and drink. The large, defining moral choices come rarely, and often without any planning on our part. Pilate was woken early in the morning and faced with the trial of Jesus. So too, circumstances suddenly arise that require us to make an instant decision – we need time, but there is none, we need more information but it is not available. Our minds scream for mercy from the juggernaut of moral demands. But we cannot escape; we must choose, and we must choose on the spot. If we put it off, we will sink into moral weakness, rather like the physical weakness of someone who hates exercise – they become flabby, and their muscles ache if they are forced to any physical exertion. In a similar way, the man or woman who fends off personal responsibility for moral choices will become weak and withdrawn. We are to be actively involved in the pursuit and furtherance of what is right, in our development of a relationship with God, and in the outworking of that relationship in positive love and holiness.