10 Crucial Considerations for Spiritual Decision Making

Ever been stuck in a decision?  One where perhaps you’re discerning a better and best more than a right or wrong?  Or, perhaps you are making a wise vs. stupid decision, but you aren’t sure which side of wise or stupid you are on.:-) Some decisions clearly do carry a right and wrong choice, as defined by God. And others, if not carefully pursued, can begin innocently and yet end up badly. Also, there there are those that can end up being better or best–decisions we don’t want to miss making.

A question I’ve been mulling around in my head and heart over the past week or two is not (in the best of my Bible reading, praying, discernment and advice seeking over the last couple of weeks) one that has a right or wrong attached to it or is of utmost importance. It’s really only about writing, and how much extra time (beyond my already very busy job) to devote to this hobby I quite enjoy. Beyond books, (which is my main focus in this hobby) I am continually learning that there’s so much more I “could and should” learn to do with blogs, social media, etc. to enhance the ability to get the message of these books out there. But alas, there are only so many hours in a day. I need to decide just how much extra time to spend on these things.

I also have a few Christian friends who are currently making some decisions of a different nature. As a result, I put together a few questions I’m asking myself concerning spiritual decision making. Let me know any others you consider, as well as how these considerations may have helped you make decisions.

One request.  Please stop and read the scriptures, for they are the real meat in this little list. And also remember that our decision making influences others’ lives whom our lives touch..

  1. Will the decision(s) I make (big and small) reflect a true “seeking the kingdom first” heart and attitude—where it is evident to those around me that the kingdom of God  and his righteousness are more important to me than anything else?  (Matthew 6:19-34)
  2. Will my decisions be made only after Bible study, prayer, perhaps fasting, and seeking advice? (James 1:2-8; 2 Timothy 2:15; Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16-17)
  3. Will my decisions help me help more people find a true relationship with God? (1 Cor. 9:19-27, John 4:34-35)
  4. Will my decisions reflect the Godly practice of seeking advice and seeking the good of the whole?   (Romans 12:1-5; Proverbs 15:22)
  5. Will my decisions reflect a “servant heart” and will they help me exercise humility in my life? Currently, does this heart and attitude show itself in tangible ways in my life—ways that help guard me and my family from the temptations of entitlement or self-serving? (Philippians 2:1-11)
  6. If my decisions carry a price tag, will I begin with a “tithing spirit”— a decision to give to God a generous portion FIRST? Does the current way I handle my finances reflect a “first fruits” heart toward God and inspire my family to think first of giving back to God? (Mark 12:29-44)
  7. Will I let things I have already done for God, cause me to think it’s now “my time”? ,,, I deserve this or that? (Luke 17:7-10)
  8. Will my decisions help me be of greater service to the church? Ephesians 5:15-16; John 4:34-35; Luke 8:14-15)
  9. Will my decisions help me be more focused on God’s purposes, or will they add complication and distraction to my already busy life? ( Luke 10:38-42; Luke 8:14-15)
  10. Will my decisions be affected by what others will think of me more than what I can know  is best as defined by God and his word—as far as I can discern? (Mark 12:14)             crucial considerations for sdm

Kicking Trees

When, as a young girl I got mad, frustrated or began whining my mother gave me words of wisdom.  At the time, I didn’t know they were words of wisdom.  I just thought her words of instruction were normal protocol.  Her instruction was this.  “Go outside, run around the house six times and kick some trees.”  So, I would go outside, count as I ran around the house and begin to kick one of the big pine trees in our backyard. I always felt better.

I thought about this several times this week.  One of my most oft-used and very helpful scriptures is short, but profound.  It is found in Romans 12:21 –
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This is what my mother was training me to do.  To replace what was bad with something good.  (Exercise and getting rid of frustration was good….and no trees were harmed in this process.)

What an important scripture to practice.  I find that I can only find success in overcoming sin, temptations or even annoying habits by applying this verse.  It’s sort of like this:

Imagine if I decided that I ate too much chocolate (is that possible?) and that I would quit having chocolate as one of my staple food groups.  So, I would then think about how I would avoid all Lindt dark chocolate bars with a sprinkling of chili in them.  By no means would I indulge in a molten chocolate cake, warm from the oven with melted Ghirardelli chocolate oozing out of the center – and smothered in ice cream.  And whenever I went through a “Wendy’s” drive-through I’d request a vanilla frosty (aren’t “frosty” and “chocolate” synonymous?) so I wouldn’t have to take slow tastes of the creamy chocolate custard that coats my throat in an oh-so palatable way.  Needless to say, this is not a smart way to get chocolate out of my life.  Even as I type this while in a neighborhood coffee shop, I am now tempted to check out the chocolate goodies staring at me under the glass.  You see, God knows that the way to overcome something is to replace it with something else. What I need to do is to take a walk or eat an apple.

Jesus taught this truth with a parable: Luke 11:24-26
“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ [25] When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. [26] Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”

Too often we try to get rid of besetting sins or bad habits by just “sweeping our house clean” without occupying it with Godly attributes, actions and thoughts.  Some practical ways this is to be done is found in Col. 3:5-10
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. [6] Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. [7] You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. [8] But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. [9] Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices [10] and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
12-15 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. [13] Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. [14] And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
    [15] Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

A couple of days ago I was sharing Romans 12:21 with a young woman who was eager to become a Christian and who was wanting help in overcoming some destructive habits.  She decided to “arm herself” with several scriptures she would immediately turn to, with prayer, and with requests for support from a few who she might call when tempted. She decided upon  several “courses of action”  which she could immediately turn to in order to “overcome evil with good”.  She also was thrilled with the  promise of God’s Spirit entering her when she was baptized. She was learning to put off…and to put on.  To not be overcome…but to overcome.

What a privilege to have an alternative to “being overcome by evil”.  What trees do you need to kick today?