"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth."
You notice the title is not "The Road Taken" but "The Road Not Taken". Obviously the emphasis was on the thought of the path that he did not choose, wondering, speculating. We are this way with so much in our lives. Perhaps not to the point of being indecisive but often times regretting not having made decisions differently.
Sometimes such an attitude hampers us in the decisions we have made and so we only put a partial effort into the journey we are on. We are robbing ourselves of the glory of the path we have taken. The worse of it is when we try to take both paths and make a mess out of everything. Throughout the Scriptures we are told to make a decision about who we will serve because, as the apostle Paul said, we will end up serving something.
We all remember the famous "As for me and my family" speech from Joshua and it is spot on. Make a decision people, who will you serve: Yahweh or some other god? Make a decision and give it your full effort. Some of you may protest and say that we are not to put in an effort, that it is all by Yahweh's grace. Salvation is by his grace but our walk with Jesus is with effort and determination. Yes, his grace covers us when we falter but if we do not understand our responsibility in the relationship we will do more than falter, we will drop off. We need to be determined every day to choose Jesus, to walk in his ways (directions, commands, instructions, laws), to not fear and trust him for all we need, to spend time in relationship building (prayer, worship, Bible study), and to carry out the mission (to make disciples).
Yet, Joshua's speech is not the only example of being told we must make a decision. Examples are scattered throughout the Word. One is found in 1 Kings 18:
Elijah was fearless and bold in demonstrating to the people that, although there was a choice, there was only one that was obvious. But people do not like choosing Yahweh, even with the promise of eternity because of the intimacy of the accountability. They would rather find a system that would demand less out of them; something that would benefit them but with low risk, low cost and low effort. We are such a lazy people.
Jesus told us that we would have a choice and that he had come for those who would make the decision to believe the good news he was revealing. It's a decision. We can choose to stay as we are, in our rebellion and be slaves to sin or we could choose to accept the loving relationship with Yahweh and be slaves to righteousness. Paul used the term slave to describe something with a term that we could understand because it is hard to translate the spiritual into a language the non-spiritual may comprehend. When we make a decision for Jesus we are compelled to walk in righteousness in the same way we were compelled to walk in sin without him.
Now let's be clear on this, we can't serve two masters. We can't choose two paths. You can't choose Jesus and still do whatever you want. There is a distinct way of living when we choose Jesus and many of us are choosing with our mouth but our heart still belongs to the other path. It can't be made any clearer than this: when you choose Jesus you let everything else go and you give yourself completely to his path. You don't get to argue and negotiate certain aspects with him. It is like when Moses presented everything to the people of Israel and then told them to choose. Jesus told us to count the cost, check out what you are agreeing to. Yahweh hides nothing but he says that if we are to follow him these are his clear expectations and demands of those he calls his children. It is not a free for all.
Salvation is by grace but the rest of it gets worked out in us daily as we are transformed by the Spirit, transformed with an obedient and willing heart. Too many of us are choosing with our mouth only but it also requires a belief of action in our hearts. The question is simple: who will you serve? Which path do you choose? What is your decision?