Cross Points 6.18.21

Questions Leading to Good Decisions

Borrowing from Andy Stanley’s new book: Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets.  Stanley states, “You are where you are for the most part because of the decisions you’ve made.  So, yeah, it’s your fault.”  He goes on to elaborate that we all have regrets, things gone bad due to decisions we’ve made.  Sure, we’ve had help, but… Nobody decides to blow up a marriage, yet every divorce is at the end of a trail of decisions.  Nobody decides to bury themselves with debt, but it happens one decision at a time. That means a key to a better future is making better decisions.
Question 1: Am I being honest with myself, really?  That thing you want to buy, will it benefit you in a needed way?  That blossoming relationship, does it match your values and long-term goals?  That destructive habit, did you have to sell yourself on it (good decision rarely need selling)?  Jeremiah the prophet once said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”  Don’t allow feelings (the heart) to drive being dishonest with self.

Question 2: What story do I want to tell?  Stanley says that we often want our private decisions to stay private, but experience should tell us they never do.  Our personal decisions impact others, and once they do, our story becomes part of their story.  When making decisions, what do you want to tell your kids one day?  Telling a good story includes seeing through the fog of today into the preferred future state of tomorrow.  Think Joseph in the Old Testament.  He consistently made good decisions for the long-term, with God always in mind, rather than react to his immediate circumstances.  His story went from jealousy and problems and strife for years, to be a major player in the history of Israel, revered forever by his family. He wanted a good story.  Don’t you?

Question 3: Is their tension that deserves my attention?  It’s that “red flag” moment when something just doesn’t seem right.  Most of good decision making is with good data, good input, but here is where intuitive feelings play a part.  Listen.  It may come into play with family or friends.  Dad or mom, or a good trusted friend, tells us they don’t know why, but something concerns them about the decision you are facing, the choice they know you’re about to make.  Slow down and consider the feedback.  It happened to David while hiding in a cave, where Saul went to relieve himself.  He was in the process of hunting David down to kill him.  It was David’s chance to act and claim the kingdom, but something told him it just wasn’t right to kill God’s anointed one.  He didn’t.  Never sorry.

Question 4: What is the wise thing to do?  Whether it’s one more drink, one more bite, or one more swipe of the credit card, the outcome says it’s not wise.  What we want isn’t necessarily immoral, it’s just not helping us live the best way; creating unnecessary problems.  Too often we live based on the lowest common denominator: how close can I come to sinning without sinning?  It’s not wise.  George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” or in other words, “If you don’t pay attention to what got you in trouble yesterday, you’ll be in the same trouble tomorrow.”  As Paul said, “Be careful how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.”  You don’t have to violate a command to get in trouble, so be wise.

Question 5: What does love require of me?   The other questions have an ROI most times, eventually, but not this one, not always.  It involves other people who are making decisions also, and we have no control of them.  That does not remove our responsibility to love as we should.  Love for God and love for our fellow humans sums up the law, Jesus said.  This is not feelings so much as positive action based on what is best for them.  Jesus showed us how.  He was abused by many, but always acted with love for them, their eternity in mind, not just the immediate circumstances.  He sacrificed for them in the ultimate way.  What does unselfish love require of me?

Jesus said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, to discern what is the will of God, the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2). That’s what this is about.  We all need side rails to help us consistently make good decisions that honor God.  The above should serve that purpose.  I’d recommend Stanley’s book, an easy read, well written with much humor, elaborating on these principles.
Cross Point: “I will put my laws into their minds…and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Heb. 8:10).
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