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).”

The Slave From Syria

road-signGod looks at the clean hands, not the full ones.” These are the words of Publilius, a Latin writer who  was born in 85 BC and was a contemporary of Cicero. His beginnings were rather humble in that he made the trip from Syria to Italy as a slave. Due to his quick wit, and abundant talent, he won the favor of his Italian master who educated him and then gave him his freedom.

 Publilius is credited with saying: “Etiam capillus unus habet umbram” which is a Latin phrase that means: “Even one hair has a shadow.”

Every thought that you think and every deed that you do is like a strand of hair. It has a shadow or consequence, and each follicle can be as diabolical as it is delightful.

When  Solomon wrote the Proverbs, he focused on the evil and regal motives of the heart and the consequences of both:  “The wicked,” said Solomon,  “will be snared by their own wrongdoing. Their flaws will tie their own hands, and they will be dragged through life by the cords of their sins (5:22 ~The Voice).”

Like Solomon, Paul knew a person would either live the live of the foolhardy or hardly be a fool. When Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome, he advised them to be know for their discretion, not their many transgressions: “Put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  (Romans 13:12 ~NIV).”

Paul continued this theme when he instructed Timothy to “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life (I Timothy 6:18-19~NIV).”

When you read the verses above, could you see the shadow of the good deeds?  Paul said the consequence of a good deed and a generous spirit is treasure or rewards in heaven.

The quote below is from an unknown source.  As you read it, think about the long shadow it casts on this discussion.   Notice the rhythm and flow of the consequences of your thoughts and your deeds.

Watch your thoughts, they become words;

Watch your words, they become actions;

Watch your actions, they become habits;

Watch your habits, they become character;

Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

Ophidiophobia: The Fear of Snakes

snake1Ever since Adam and Eve listened to the smooth talking serpent in the Garden of Eve, and they were snake bit by listening to his bad advice, people have been wary of snakes.  Evidently a man in San Diego should have exercised a little more caution.

When Todd Fassler was bitten by a rattlesnake earlier this month, he joined the ranks of the other seven or eight thousand people who will be bitten by a venomous snake this year.  Of that number only 5 or 6 will succumb to the poison and die.

Since he was bitten, Fassler has learned that snake bites can be both painful and sickening as well as expensive.  He almost relapsed when he learned his hospital bill came to a total of $153,000.

Some snake bites can take a toll on a person’s physical health, but there is another one that is even more deadly when the discussion turns to spiritual consequences.  The snake bite of sin only has one cure and it is Jesus.

To illustrate this, Jesus, referenced an incident in Numbers 21 when he was speaking to Nicodemus:  “Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. In the same way, the Son of Man must be lifted up; then all those who believe in Him will experience everlasting life.”

Before you toy with temptation and tinker with sin, you may want to think about the consequences:  The price might be much higher than $153,000.

Weighing Your Options

download (1)In a post I made to this blog last week, I wrote about character and reputation.  I cited Romans 5, and I called your attention to a cause and effect link:  “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope.”

Over the weekend I reflected again on the words of Paul, and I remembered a story that Billy Graham tells.  It’s a good illustration of how God can use the suffering you encounter in your life.

The incident occurred during the Great Depression, and Graham spoke of a friend who had lived a life of hardship.  The man had lost his job, his wife, his home, and his fortune.  This Christian could not comprehend the purpose of his suffering, but he didn’t let his trials shake his faith.

While walking by a church one day, he stopped to watch some masons as they worked.  One of the men was chiseling a triangle shaped piece of stone, and Graham’s friend asked him: “What are you doing?”  The workman replied:  “See that little opening near the top of the spire? I’m chiseling this stone down here, so it will fit in just right up there.”

As Graham’s friend walked down the street, his eyes filled with tears and he smiled.  He realized that God was using his suffering as a chisel down here, so some day he would fit in up there.

Paul said:  “For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the coming glory that will be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).

When your heart aches, I hope you will find some comfort in the promises of Psalm 27:1, 14: The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!

I’ll close with this thought:  When you wait on the Lord, He lifts the weight of the world.