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
"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
“But the wisdom from above is… reasonable..."
By Jon W. Quinn
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