Every day we are confronted with decisions we have to make. Some are minor decisions, "What are we going to eat?" "What are we going to wear?" "What's on TV?" But some of the decisions we make are momentous, they can affect the rest of our lives for good or evil, and they can affect the lives of others. The big decisions we make need to be carefully thought out and we must be guided by the values we hold dear.
I talk to people all the time who make important life decisions impulsively based on what seems right in the moment or satisfies some perceived need. They may make a bad decision they'll have to live with for the rest of their lives. We all know people who made financial decisions, moral decisions, said things, did things they would regret later - but you can't undo what's been done.
Probably the best example of this is Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They had it good! God created them. They lived in a place where every need was met. They walked and talked with God and had a close and personal relationship with Him. They were safe and secure. Life was in fact perfect for them. But then Satan showed up and tempted them to do the one thing God said they could not do, eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan said, "If you eat it you will be like God." They wanted to be like God. They wanted to call the shots and do whatever they wanted. So they ate the forbidden fruit.
Once they disobeyed God and tasted evil, nothing would ever be the same again. They experienced fear for the first time. They realized they were naked. They were ashamed. As a result of their sin evil entered the world and God's perfect creation became infected by a deadly disease. The consequence of Adam and Eve's sin was to be cast out of the garden where they would live by doing hard labor and ultimately die. All their descendants, including us, are under the curse of their sin. Talk about making a bad decision - Adam and Eve made the worst, most catastrophic decision in human history.
But we don't have to make bad decisions. If we think through the choices and are guided by our values, if we consult with God and seek His will, we can make great decisions that enrich our lives and bless those around us. An example of the best decision in the history of the world takes place in another garden.
Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion. He knew the horror that awaited Him when He died for the sins of the world. He prayed and asked God to take "this cup" from Him. The cup is Jesus' death. He asked God, "Is there any other way to accomplish what you want to do in this world short of my dying on the cross?" Jesus, like any man, did not want to suffer and die. But Jesus prayed, "Not my will, but yours be done." Jesus came to the realization that there was no other way to forgive the sins of men and save them without His death on the cross. He was willing to do God's will ahead of His own. His strength was renewed to do the right thing. He got up and willing went with the people sent to arrest Him.
Jesus' decision in the Garden of Eden to do God's will resulted in forgiveness and salvation for every person who believes in Him. It resulted in Jesus' exultation. He was raised from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the throne of God. He will come back to earth, defeat evil and establish His kingdom that will last forever.
Our decisions will never be as consequential as Adam and Eve's or Jesus' in the garden, but they'll have a huge impact on our lives and on the lives of those we love. If we want to make good decisions we have to follow Jesus' example. In worship this Sunday at First Baptist Riverside my sermon is "Decisions in a Garden." We'll look at what led Adam and Eve to make their fateful decision and what motivated Jesus to make His momentous decision, and we'll learn how to make better decisions that will improve the quality of our lives. I hope you'll join us for traditional worship at 9:00 a.m. or contemporary worship at 10:45.