I often wonder why people consistently make bad decisions. Why am I prone to foolish stubbornness? Theologically, it’s a sin problem, we’re bent on rebelling against God. This results in what Pastor Rod calls ‘having a broke chooser’, but that’s generally in the context of relationships. The principle is still the same, we have poor decision-making skills.
The Foundation of Decision-Making
I’ve been doing a topical study of Proverbs on various subjects, one being decision-making and moral dilemmas. Why?
Because a lot of problems would be stopped if someone had made the right choice. A lot of problems are the natural consequences of a bad decision. That’s why repentance is key, stop doing that and follow God.
Letting Christ lead your life and trusting Him and his wisdom will protect you from making bad decisions so long as you obey. Sometimes you won’t obey, sometimes I don’t.
I think of it as so long as I obey Jesus, I’m safe under his moral will. The minute I disobey, I step out from under it and get conked on the head by the consequences of my actions. Like an umbrella during a rainstorm.
Rubbing the sore spot, I run back under his will, apologizing and asking for forgiveness. That’s repentance in action. You learn from it, gaining self-control, so don’t reject discipline. The best time to stop doing wrong is now.
The benefits of wisdom are that it’s practical knowledge that enables good decision-making. James 1:5 says if you lack wisdom then ask God who will generously give it to you.
Wisdom protects you from the bad influences who will lead you astray. It will protect you from the flattering, persuasive words of someone who only wants to use you. This will lead to a life of integrity and the power of reputation protecting you.
So How Do I Make Good Decisions?
By understanding. You have to know and think through the ramifications and consequences of a decision before you make it. Do not make a decision based on an emotional impulse. Listening to your heart is bad advice, your conscience is better, especially if it’s soaked in the Word of God and led by the Holy Spirit.
There are times to say yes rather than waiting, but only in the area of small, non-fatal decisions like where to eat, ride a rollercoaster or not, etc. Other times you have to say no to avoid trouble, opportunities may be missed, but you could’ve been hurt in the long run.
Either way, don’t act until you have enough information to make a well-informed decision. Use the experience of others to help, their counsel and wisdom will carry you far as you consider their advice in the planning. Look for advice from people who care for you, and are godly, wise friends.
Plans won’t succeed without quality advice and will work if they’re in the Will of God because only His plans last. So in making plans listen to those who have your best interests at heart. Consider the cost to others and yourself and then give it all you got.
Life feels meaningless at times. When it does, one of the best and worst thing you can do is read Ecclesiastes. I call it Proverb’s cynical counterpart. Here’s a short video on it from the Bible Project.
An oft-repeated phrase that’s in it is “meaningless” or “vanity” depending on the translation. The word it’s translated from is hevel, which means vapor in the wind.
Here now, unable to grasp, gone the next.
Albert Einstein said that those that know the most are the unhappiest. The Bible said it before he did, Ecclesiastes 1:18, “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”
You see how it could be, should be, and the reality that it isn’t so. It pains you. I sometimes feel like I’m only warning the air. People I care about going down the wrong path, and the grim certainty I have when I predict what will happen.
The World and Mortality
The world is amazing but temporary. I think on mortality often as entropy overtakes everything. If there wasn’t a Heaven to look forward to, it would be quite depressing indeed.
The headlines are full of evil. Someone is getting shot, violence is ramping up, corruption, outrage flaming up, etc. All will have their time, and for our part in it, we’ll have to answer to God.
What You Have
We shouldn’t face life alone, friends can help. Friendship, relationship, it’s one of the few things that aren’t called meaningless. Unlike the love of money.
In fact, find joy in what you have rather than obtaining more. This too isn’t meaningless.
Why be satisfied? Because it will all end, and having that knowledge will make you appreciate it. You never truly cherish something until it’s gone. Reflecting on that causes a priority check.
Both inevitably come.
How To Respond
Life is infuriatingly puzzling. It bothered Solomon, too. So where does that leave us? With this:
The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.