In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, Thomas Hobson worked as a licensed carrier of passengers, letters, and parcels between Cambridge and London, England. He kept horses for this purpose and rented them to university students when he wasn’t using them. Of course, the students always wanted their favorite horses, and consequently a few of Hobson’s animals became overworked. To correct the situation, Hobson began a strict rotation system, giving each customer the choice of taking the horse nearest the stable door or none at all. This rule became known as “Hobson’s choice,” and soon people were using that term to mean “no choice at all” in all kinds of situations.
Hobson’s choice • HAHB-suhnz-choyss [IMG] • (noun) : an apparently free choice when there is no real alternative
“You can either eat the dinner I have served you or go hungry,” said Mother, presenting the grumbling children with a classic Hobson’s choice. (Based on Merriam – Webster’s Collegiate(R) Dictionary, 10th Edition.)
Great – now you can impress your friends and family with cool trivial knowledge and a bigger vocabulary…but don’t miss the bigger principle here. Did you know that Satan is the ultimate master at offering a Hobson’s choice to you and me everyday of our lives?
At every opportunity Satan can find, he presents sin-filled scenarios with apparently bad options- which come cleverly disguised as a ‘free’ choice, when in reality there is no real alternative. Satan hurls the Hobson’s choice at you at least once a day, painting the bad road with pretty signs. He lies about the alternative to get you to believe that sin is the only way to get your needs fulfilled.
How do you handle the Hobson? Probably your best bet is to imitate Jesus when the devil tried it on Him:
Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil. For forty days and forty nights he ate nothing and became very hungry. Then the Devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, change these stones into loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,
`People need more than bread for their life;
they must feed on every word of God.’ ”
Then the Devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, `He orders his angels to protect you. And they will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.’ ” Jesus responded,
“The Scriptures also say, `Do not test the Lord your God.’ ”
Next the Devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will only kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say,
`You must worship the Lord your God;
serve only him.’ ”
Then the Devil went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus. (Matthew 4:1-11)
Christ knew that the only way to see the Hobson coming is to look through the lenses of the Bible. You have to be able to see life God’s way to know that Satan is blinding you. So what are you waiting for? Are you tired of believing the Deceiver? Jump into a regular study of Scripture and pretty soon you’ll know your Hobson from a hole in the ground.