In many ways, our Christian walk consists primarily of remaining mindful of God. Put differently, it consists of remaining conscious of our relationship with God throughout the day. This may take many different forms depending on the situations we find ourselves in. It may be responding to an opportunity to serve another in a seemingly small way, or resisting the temptation to say something we’re better off not saying, or being willing to see someone in a different light than that of our own presumption, and so on. This frequently amounts to being conscious of the choice that is regularly placed before us. So often we respond to life in a reactionary way, especially in the course of our day-to-day activities. Having a rhythm and routine to life is good and healthy, but it can also prove dangerous if we become passive and complacent in it.
Many times, we find ourselves falling short of the ideals we pursue for no other reason than we are not thinking about them at the time. Sin sneaks in when we aren’t on the lookout for it. It isn’t that we are going out of our way to deviate from Christ’s example, it’s more the case that we drift off the path. Rather than turning opposite the way we want to go, it’s more like following traffic off of the highway without thinking about whether it’s the right exit or not. The choices that are spiritually harmful to us often stem from sinful habit rather than sinful motive. The situations that provide us with these choices are typically more subtle than being presented with two options obviously marked as right and wrong. They tend to be more concerned with things like the type of attitude we maintain throughout the day, what we are going to let our mind linger on, and so forth.
As we ponder this, there is a very real possibility of going to the other extreme and going out of our way to shoehorn everything into a choice format. The fact is that we don’t need to go out and find choices to make, we simply need to be aware of the choices already before us.
It may help to consider things from a different angle. Near the end of the book of Deuteronomy, in which the Old Testament Law is laid out for the Israelites, Moses speaks to the assembly and says the following:
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
In short, the Israelites have been plainly told the way to life and the way to death. Given this knowledge, they are implored to choose the way to life.
Moving closer to home, in the context of the New Testament and New Covenant we are under, Jesus sets down the foundation upon which all of the instruction in the Old Testament hangs. When asked what the greatest commandment is, Christ replies with the following:
“Jesus said to him, ‘“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’”
Here, Christ sets down for us the heart of what it means to be obedient to God in simple terms. As the Way, He shows us what it looks like to follow the Way which leads to life.
Returning to being mindful of the choices that come before us, being conscious of these choices and responding appropriately does not require that we constantly unfold a massive flow chart to identify them and decide what to do. Nor does it require that we set ourselves on-edge as if we are taking history’s most dire multiple-choice test. What it calls for is shining a light, plain and simple. This light is the light of God’s word and by it, we can see to stay on the right path as well as catch anything unsavory that would try to sneak in under the cover of darkness. One way we may go about it is simply keeping the two greatest commandments in mind as we go about our business. Is my attitude one that loves God? By saying x, am I loving my neighbor as myself? These are some of the questions that sprout from such a mindset. As they do, they cast light upon the choices we are making and allow us to see more clearly so that we may choose life.