Free Will is the second best gift God has given us.
The first is salvation by grace through His Son Jesus.
Humans are the only one of God’s creations that gets to choose if we fulfill the purpose we were created for. A tree does not get to decide whether it will be a tree or whether it will be used to create a chair. When a man makes a chair out of the wood from the tree, the chair does not get to decide whether it will be a chair for the kitchen table or a rocking chair for the porch. The rain does not decide whether it will be water, or whether it will flow from streams and rivers into the ocean. It does not get to choose if it will quench a thirsty human or be the life force for a fish. Dirt does not get to change its form and become a dog. A giraffe does not get to decide it will be a rhinoceros. But humans are different. We get to choose if we will fulfill God’s purpose or not. We choose if we will be what He made us to be for His glory or defy Him as the Creator and do as we please. Can you imagine the chaos there would be if every creation had the same Free Will we do?
God grants us Free Will to choose if we obey Him or even believe in Him. All humans have Free Will. We choose what we think, and how we act or react to what is happening. We choose if we will fulfill His purpose for us. We each have a purpose, and it is not just to suck oxygen, eat, work, watch American Idol, sleep and then die. He has a purpose for each of us. Just imagine if we each reached the potential He set out for us. In order for us to fulfill His purpose requires we use our Free Will and choose to be obedient to Him.
Regardless if we choose to follow Him, exercising Free Will requires much responsibility. Free Will does not only mean you get to make your choices and no one can interfere (so long as you do not interfere with someone else). It also means we must accept that there is a reaction to each action. We must accept there are consequences to our choices.
The word consequence is usually used in a negative fashion. But consequences can be good or bad. A consequence as explained by Merriam Webster’s Dictionary: “something produced by a cause or necessarily following from a set of conditions”. A consequence of thinking happy thoughts is that we smile, hopefully! A consequence of learning to walk is becoming independent of our parents/guardians. A consequence of biting into a piece of chocolate is a chemical reaction in our brain that makes us feel loved. A consequence of eating too much chocolate at once is an upset stomach.
Having Free Will means we are able to make choices, but not without consequences. We can choose our action but cannot choose the consequence of that action. Before a choice is made, the known consequences are weighed and the risk assessed. Every choice we make has a risk. Some are very low risk. So low, we would say “no risk”. For example, is there any risk in going to the store to buy a gallon of milk? Generally speaking, we would say this is routine and we would not assess any risk. But there are variables… something tragic can happen while you are driving, or even while in the store. Of course, the opposite can happen and you could find untold fortune along the way, and maybe meet your perfect someone. The variables are unknown. How often do we say “If I had only… ” or “If I only had not…” or “Good thing I did…” There is always a risk in any choice or decision we make. And there is always a consequence to each choice or decision. Embracing Free Will means we accept the consequences of our choices, good and bad.
Each thought we have is an exercise in Free Will. Each thought requires a choice through Free Will … do we continue holding that thought and the connected thoughts thereafter. Or, immediately change that thought and draw a new, different thought into the mind. Free Will is like a muscle. It requires effort to use. If we don’t exercise it in a righteous manner, it becomes weak. We have to learn to use it effectively and righteously. By righteously I mean the way God intended. God would prefer we make the correct choices.
Free Will comes with legal choices, ethical choices, moral choices, health choices, relational choices, sexual choices, spiritual choices, etc. These can happen almost from moment to moment, from thought to thought. God allows us to choose freely, and even inconsistently. For example, you may think dog fighting is legally, morally, and ethically wrong, but you speed when driving (legally, morally, and ethically wrong). This is Free Will in action. Humans are perfectly imperfect and consistently inconsistent.
In some cases, there really is no right or wrong. But there are still consequences. Do you choose to become a doctor or do you choose to become a musician? Do you eat a hamburger or chicken? Do you go to bed at 10 pm or 11 pm? Nothing right or wrong about those choices. However, even these micro-decisions can have a macro impact and there will be consequences. How much money can you make as a doctor versus musician? Was the chicken cooked well enough? Were 7 hours of sleep enough or did you need 8? We accept the consequences because they are a result of our own Free Will to choose. What a blessing.
Instead of God requiring us to follow laws with zero tolerance for error, God provides grace to make mistakes, learn and grow. That does not mean we are relinquished of responsibility to make the correct or best choices. This is why there are consequences. And why we must weigh the risk, weigh if good or bad, right or wrong, what would be the best as far as we can see…
Do you never let your children make mistakes? Or do you allow them room to fall, and give them grace for making a mistake. This is how God is with us. And God allows us, Free Will, to choose to follow Him and even whether we will fulfill His purpose. There are many who follow Him but are not fulfilling their purpose. If you are one of them, imagine fulfilling the purpose that God created you for by using your own Free Will. Imagine choosing to fulfill His purpose, no matter how scary that may feel. If you want to be different than the masses, choosing God’s Will with your own Free Will will set you so far apart, and at peace. That is not to say things will be easy, or you will not experience heartache or hardship. But you will experience peace like none other walking through the trials that life presents.
Free Will is a free pass God has given us with grace. That choice you make in every moment can be in His grace or outside of it. Each thought is a choice because we have been given Free Will to choose what we think about, and how we act or react. When you use Free Will to live Christ-centered with every thought in every moment, God’s Will for you can not be broken. It is not easy, but it is possible. God made sure of that when He created you.