Excellent Choice!
 “But the wisdom from above is… reasonable..."

By Jon W. Quinn

  There are many issues in life where we must make decisions about a matter and the Bible does not speak to it directly, and yet it seems important. Questions like "Does God want me to take this new job opportunity, or remain where I am?" or "I want to donate some time and energy to a worthy cause - which one would He prefer that I help?" or "Should I let junior play Little League, or soccer, or both, or neither?"

In fact, the Bible does not speak directly to these issues and questions. But it does provide help to us in finding the answers. The basic way to arrive at the best answers is the same for everyone. In order to live by faith, we must know God's word, because “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). When we give the word of God the degree of importance that it deserves in our lives, then all of our thoughts, decisions and activities will be influenced first and foremost by the desire to please the Lord. It will be on that basis that we approach even the more mundane questions of life and come to our conclusions

If we fail to permit the teachings of Scripture into our hearts to the degree where the word really has its effect in making these decisions and choices, then the fact is that Jesus is not living within us. We then will have very poor discernment. We will likely remain focused on the carnal and make very harmful decisions with reference to our soul's well being, and to the spiritual needs of our family and others.

On a "Need to Know" Basis
Of course, we do need to know the word to live by faith. The Scriptures are good for us to follow everyday. They are adequate to equip us, but only to the degree that we come to know them and receive them into our hearts and make them a part of ourselves (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16,17)

The epistle of James speaks of this process of allowing the Scriptures to become a part of us as they become the main ingredient to how we are daily building our characters. The process involves putting aside those characteristics which block righteous behavior in our lives, receiving the word of God “implanted” and actually doing what it says.
“Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (James 1:21,22).

This will result in developing more spiritual discernment with which we tackle the various decisions of life. “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:13-18).

Those disciples who follow this procedure will, over time, receive better discernment as they develop within themselves the “wisdom which is from above”. The word of God has built-in protection against making bad decisions!

Some Biblical Examples
We find examples of how this wisdom developed in faithful men and women who lived by faith, and how it didn't so much in those whose focus was on the carnal side of things.

Lot, whose focus was on the carnal, felt that what was good for his bank account was most important, and so decisions he made turned out to be awful for his family's spiritual wellbeing (Genesis 13:9-12; 19:12-13). Lot would lose his sons-in-laws and wife, and though his daughters would survive, they were also ruined by the consequences of Lot's decisions which had unnecessarily exposed them to the godlessness of Sodom.

In Jesus' parable of the rich farmer we find that the choices he made reflect an overestimation of the value of his accumulated stuff even as he underrated the value of his soul (Luke 12:15-21)

But we also have good examples as well where good choices are made from a foundation of great faith in God. For example, God said of Abraham
"He will command his children" (Genesis 18:19; Hebrews 11:8; 13). God knew that Abraham would look first to the spiritual wellbeing of his family and make his decisions accordingly..

In the qualifications of elders (Titus 1:5-9) we find several of them to have to do with having a record of making good, spiritual choices. This includes
“loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.” (Titus 1:8,9).

So, as we apply these things to our choices, take for example, that new job offer. Does the Lord want me to take it? Does it pay more? Does it require anything of me that will be a disadvantage to my spiritual growth and duties? Does it have better hours? Does it require me to disobey the law of Christ? Does it have good benefits? Will I still be able to be present in my home to take care of my responsibilities to my family? Is there potential for advancement and promotion? Will it become necessary for me to neglect some aspect of my responsibilities to the local church? Which of these questions should be asked first? Which would Lot or the Rich Farmer have asked first? Which would Abraham or a proven elder have asked first? The most difficult choices for those who love God are not the choices between good and evil, but between two good things. Sometimes choosing a good thing can be the wrong choice if there was a better choice that needed to be made. Having the word implanted will help us choose the excellent over the merely good for our families and ourselves (1 Peter 2:9-10; 12).

From The Bradley Banner 7/19/2009
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
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