A woman was hired as a sorter at a conveyor on which potatoes were to be graded. She was to separate them according to size; small, medium, or large. After her first day she threatened to quit. When asked why, she answered, “Decisions, decisions! Too many decisions!”
We all make decisions. Some of our options are rather easy to figure out. Others, however, seem rather difficult. For earnest Christians, there is good counsel to be found in the Bible. Some have adopted the WWJD concept: what would Jesus do? That is a good start, but first we need to be familiar with what Jesus did and what He said to do. He was called rabbi, or teacher, for good reason. Read the Gospels and you will see that He gave a lot of instructions about how we should conduct ourselves. The epistles, or letters to the churches, give us additional instructions.
It is also good to consult wise people about some decisions. “In the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Yet there are also zealots and fools, some of whose counsel can lead one far astray.
As a new Christian, my father began to make some vows about some activities. He decided against drinking alcohol, smoking, chewing gum, and drinking coffee. But what about tea? He wondered where his vows would lead him. He began to pray. “Lord, what about tea? Should I give that up too?” The Lord answered by directing him to the scriptures. There he read, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17). He waited for some time and prayed again, “Should I give up tea?” The verse came back to his mind again. After more time passed, he prayed about tea. For the third time the answer came back, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” He got the point.
His focus had been wrong. God’s kingdom is not made up of people who worry about every little thing that goes into their mouths. It is far greater. Jesus taught His disciples that very clearly. “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man,” (Matt. 15:11). This is not to say that issues like gluttony or drunkenness are not addressed, because elsewhere the scriptures deal with those issues. What God is looking for are people who follow righteous ways, follow peace, and have the joy of the Lord.
Making decisions based on men’s prejudices or how they extrapolate from verses can cause great confusion. People have become almost walking zombies because they’ve listened to the rants of others who have made righteousness out to be a long series of regulations. If they violate one point, they are consigned to perdition. Some people under such spells have literally had to ask permission to come and go.
This kind of control has nothing to do with righteousness, peace, or joy in the Holy Ghost.
There are those times when hearing counsel is very helpful. Good counsel has kept many well-meaning people from making very bad decisions. I was on the board of a ministry and someone came to me with a complaint. Hearing only his side made his argument seem reasonable. I wrote up a page to be passed on to the board. The chairman called me. “Do you think it is really wise to take this complaint and make it a larger issue?”
On reflection, I saw how it could do much more harm than good. I decided not to air the issue. It was the right choice. What at first seemed reasonable was actually part of a petty clash between two people that needed no more energy by more exposure. The wise counsel of the board chairman kept me from doing something that would have been divisive.
Parents are often a good place to go to for advice. “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck” (Pr. 1:8,9). Here the chains are not those of a slave, but decorations of honor.
After graduating from the university, I was seeking a job. My father advised me to go back to school instead, and get a graduate degree. Initially, I resisted his advice. I was tired of school. I wanted to go do something else for a change. He did not insist, but quietly counseled again to go back to college. I finally decided to go to school. I got the degree. But more importantly, it was during that time that I realized the importance of evangelistic ministry in my life. God used it to lead me not to secular employment, but to become involved in helping to fulfill the great commission. It’s not that my father had such a thing in mind. He told me that he was surprised that out of his children, I was the one to become an evangelist. The Lord often uses parents to give wise counsel.
Parents, godly friends, and faithful ministers are often good places to go when facing decisions. However, there is no substitute for the Bible. The word of God is a lamp to our feet. It shows us how to walk. On various occasions I have wished that the Lord would let a slip of paper fall from heaven with instructions for my next move. Instead, He has given us a whole Bible. It may not tell you whether to take a particular job or not, but it will give you guidelines that help you make your decision. Does the job require you to compromise a tenet of Scripture? Can you carry out your duties with a clear conscience? Do you have clear signals from others that you are making a good decision? Finally, do you have peace about what you are deciding? God’s ways are peace. He is the God of peace.
There is one more part of this decision-making process; the Lord Himself. He has promised to help. “Man’s goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?” (Or. 20:24). We have God’s word that He is in charge of how we come and go. He will not leave us to our own devices. “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go:I will guide thee with mine eye” (Ps.32:8).
In making decisions, there is great help available for us. We have counsel of wise friends, parents, the Bible, and the Lord Himself. Now that’s no small potatoes!