Why Do We Strangely Choose Something that Clearly Harms Us?

Why Do We Strangely Choose Something that Clearly Harms Us?

Preacher Huijun - 11 September 2021

Weekend Devotion: Why Do We Strangely Choose Something that Clearly Harms Us?

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Have you ever regretted some of your foolish decisions or actions? When we read the Bible and saw how the Israelites time and again disobeyed God and suffered for it, we can’t help but wonder, “Why are the Israelites so foolish?” They already knew something was not good for them, and they had also received warnings about it, but why did they still go ahead with the act or decision?

Just like what we read in 1 Sam 8:10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots…14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” 19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

I’m not sure whether you find it strange after reading this passage. Samuel clearly told the Israelites about the downsides of having a king over them. By common sense, one would think that the Israelites would realise that it was not a good thing to have a king over them, as it will make them lose their freedom and suffer loss. Yet strange enough, the Israelites persisted in their wilful desire to have a king. Beside this incident, we also see other examples in the history of Israel where God clearly told the Israelites what the paths of blessings and curses were, yet the Israelites still often chose the path of disobedience.

Likewise for us today, many a times although we know certain things are bad for us, that they will make us suffer loss and end up being unhappy, yet we still insist on choosing them. For example, we know we should centre our lives on God and not be taken over by work, children, busyness, or worldly pleasures such that we compromise things of God, or we know we cannot serve both God and money, or there are certain things we should not watch, listen, do or meddle with, yet we still do them.


Why are humans always so foolish?

One reason is because people are helpless, especially non-believers who are in a state of being “dead” spiritually and under the bondage of the devil (Ep 2:1-3). (Ro 1) also says: 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.

Even for Christians, when the devil blinds people’s minds, deceives and tempts them, they can’t help but gratify their flesh and disobey God, thus becoming fools. Especially when a person’s desires grow so strong, he will naturally choose his selfish desires over God. And when man trusts his own wisdom and thinks he knows what’s best, he won’t pay attention to God’s warnings.


How can we overcome the heart of disobedience?

1) We need to ask God to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (1 Co 10:5).

Whenever a thought comes and before we make any decision, we need to pause and ask, “Is this in agreement with God’s word, is this God’s will, will Jesus do this? Will it be good for me and others?” No matter how reasonable we think it is, without the support of God, it may not be wise and good. “To take captive every thought” is to bring our every thought to prayer, to carefully seek God and confirm what His good will is.


And if we wish to know whether that is God’s will, we:

2) have to know the essence of God’s word and take God’s word seriously.

God’s word can make people wise, as we read in Psalms:

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Ps 19:7b)

Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. (Ps 119:98)

Therefore, as we know God’s word more, we will gain more wisdom to make the right choice, to choose blessing instead of curse, choose God instead of selfish desires and idols, choose to obey rather than go against God.

And how can we take God’s word seriously? That is, we must learn to apply God’s word after we know His word. When we use His word, then His word will become realer in our hearts, when we see it coming true or being effective. Particularly, we need to confirm how honouring God’s word leads to blessing, and disobeying His word leads to unnecessary suffering. First, we can confirm the joy we receive after obeying God’s word, such that the joy of submission keeps us motivated to obey God continuously. Even in situations where you don’t feel like obeying, recall how you were ever so thankful for having listened to God when you almost took the wrong step in the past, thus avoiding regrettable consequences. Second, we should also confirm how when we did not obey God in the past, it eventually led to our loss. Thinking of such past lessons will help prevent us from repeating our mistakes and suffering unnecessarily again.


3) We have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, so as to be led by Him and not be controlled by our flesh.

            Certainly, it is not easy to make every thought obedient to Christ and obey God’s word. Therefore, we need the help of the Holy Spirit. God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us obey Him, as mentioned in (Eze 36) 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Therefore, since we have the Holy Spirit, we also have the enabling power to obey God. As we become sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and walk with the Spirit, we will not gratify our flesh and disobey God.


Dear brothers and sisters, may we learn from the failures of the Israelites, and not be like them in choosing to disobey God when we clearly know it is not good for us. Pray that we can all turn to God today and taste the joy of submission!

Preacher Huijun
Preacher Huijun

Huijun joined The Life Church and Missions (Singapore) as a preacher in 2012. She is effectively bilingual and preaches occasionally at the Chinese service. She graduated from Singapore Bible College and currently lives in Singapore with her husband, Chengji.

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