If you were to take one of my classes, there would be a note in the syllabus that says something like this:
Students are responsible for accepting the consequences of the choices that they make.
This may seem like an odd thing to include but it is in there for a very specific reason. Early on in my teaching career, I noticed that students would make decisions and then not want to deal with the subsequent results. So, for example, they may choose not to get their Scantron the day before the test, and then be frustrated that they didn’t have enough time to complete the test since they used class time to get the requisite testing instrument. Or they may have chosen to skip class and missed an important announcement, and then want the instructions repeated when they did decide to come to class. Whatever the circumstance, I quickly realized that they needed a reminder that most of the time, the reason that they were at a perceived disadvantage had to do with a choice that they made. Therefore, they needed to make another choice to respond appropriately, and not let the circumstance control their response.
It’s a lesson that’s true for all of us. As I’ve previously written, Proverbs 16:32 teaches us about control. One of the things that it teaches us is that the Biblical definition of power, and our definition of power may look quite different. However, it also teaches us that we need to be careful who or what we give control to. If our circumstances define our response then it’s likely that, especially in less-than-perfect circumstances, our response will be an ungodly one. As the next verse reminds us, the situation we are in did not occur by happenstance, but is within God’s providential hands. If our King and Creator is in control of not only the situation, but how we respond to it, then our response can be one that brings glory and honor to Him.
This is easy to write, but harder to do. Perhaps it’s a natural human tendency to blame shift. Eve did it all those years ago in the Garden and it continues to this day. But like the Psalmist, we need to ask God for a new heart and a right spirit so that our response may not be based on our inclinations, but on His will.