Decisions: 4 Questions To Ask

a-checklist-for-better-decision-makingUnrest, stress, and turmoil are the frequent companions of decisions.  As you wrestle with making a choice, the uncertainty can flood you with anxiety; and, once the decision is made, you can grow nervous as you contemplate the potential consequences.

Deciding what is right or wrong, and what is the best course of action can be perplexing.  Even the Apostle Paul prayed that the Philippians would “abound in knowledge and every kind of insight,” so they could decide “what is best, and thus be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ (Philippians 1:9-10).”

The next time you need to make an important decision, here’s a checklist of 4 insightful questions to help steer you in the right direction:

  • Helpful or Harmful: Will the results of my decision be a benefit to me and others or a detriment?
  • Embarrassment Factor: If the consequences of my decision became front page news and trended on social media, would my parents be embarrassed?
  • Here and Now or There and Then: Are you basing your decision on the intense but temporary pain of the here and now, or are you considering the long-term consequences of the future (there and then)?
  • Consistent: Will the results of this decision be consistent with Biblical principles?

I suggest that you look at the checklist again. As you read it a second time, think about the long-lasting power of your decisions that are seen in your words and deeds: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17).”

It’s The Season

Organize-Your-Home_chore-checklist_092011It’s one of those annual rites that’s practiced in most homes across the USA.  At some point in the Spring and the Fall months of the year, there is some time scheduled for extra cleaning.

Just as you make time to spruce up your house, you might want to examine your life as well.  Is it as tidy and clean as it was a week or a month ago?

Self-examination is a continuing theme throughout the pages of Scripture, and I’ve emphasized a word in each verse below.  While these are different words in the English, they come from the same word in the Greek which is the language of the New Testament.

As you read these verses consider them in the context of who, what, when, and why:

***1 Thessalonians 5:21-22:  Test everything. Hold on to what is good. Keep away from every kind of evil.

  • What am I doing now that I wasn’t doing that has created a void in my relationship with God?

***Philippians 1:9-11:  I pray that your love will keep on growing because of your knowledge and insight. That way you will be able to determine what is best and be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.  Jesus Christ will fill your lives with everything that God’s approval produces. Your lives will then bring glory and praise to God.

  • When did my love for Jesus quit growing and when did it cease to bring Him glory and praise?

***Ephesians 5:8-14: Live as children of light, for the fruit that the light produces consists of every form of goodness, righteousness, and truth.  Determine what pleases the Lord, and have nothing to do with the unfruitful actions that darkness produces. Instead, expose them for what they are. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by these disobedient people in secret.  But everything that is exposed to the light becomes visible, for the light is making everything visible.

  • Who has influenced me to walk in the shadowy sin of darkness instead of the light of God’s love?

***Galatians 6:3-4:  If anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself; but let each one examine his own work

  • Why do I think I can live my life on my own terms and disregard the principles of God and compromise my testimony?

***Romans 12:1-2: I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship.  Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.

Examine your life to discern who you are most like.  Are you more or less of a reflection of Jesus than you were a week or a month ago?  If you are less like Him, is it because you like Him less and some one or some thing else more?  Are you still conformed to His image or have you morphed into the likeness of the world?

Examine yourself:  Is it time for some Fall cleaning?

The Testing of Character

While listening to a discussion, I heard a comment made about a particular person:  “He comes from a family that has never suffered from a shortage of self-esteem, and he oozes narcissism.”  That comment reminded me that a trainload of healthy habits can be derailed by a single character flaw.

A good example of someone whose character was tested and remained unblemished is Daniel.  In the book that bears his name, we are told that, “Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank.”

As a captive in a foreign land, Daniel found himself in a difficult position.  He had to find a way to comply but not deny.  How could he obey a king and stay faithful to the King of kings?

Daniel followed the edicts of King Nebuchadnezzar until it came to eating the food from the his table.  Because the food had been offered to Babylonian idols and most likely violated dietary restrictions, Daniel tactfully refused to eat it.

The tension for Daniel was a decision between compromised compliance and righteous reliance.  Would his character be solid or soiled?

In Psalm 105, there is a historical account of the mysterious workings of God and the way he used Joseph.  It is apparent that God took the time to develop the character of Joseph:

When he summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread, he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what he had said came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him. The king sent and released him; the ruler of the peoples set him free; he made him lord of his house and ruler of all his possessions.

Like Joseph, Paul was stalwart and steadfast in his service to God.  His faith was unshakable, and his character was resolute.  These qualities give credence to his words in Romans 5:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Take a few moments to think about the role of faith, hope, and endurance and the manner in which they influence your character.