How do you decide which life choice is right: Toss of the coin? Phone a friend? Let your conscience be your guide? We don’t have to look any further than God. He guides us in the paths of righteousness for the sake of His holy reputation. Surely He won’t let us make the wrong choice. Here are God’s 3 steps to making the right choice every time.
God’s reputation is at stake
Psalm 23:3b goes, “He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” If we are Christ-followers, our choices have a bearing on God’s reputation. So God is really interested in guiding us on the right path.
From the oldest part of the bible to the newest, God laid out the simple rules for life.
- Love God
- Love Self
- Love Others
Jesus announces this in the gospel of Mark.
“One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these”” (Mark 12:28-32 NASB).
I think God wanted to make things real simple for us. After all, if His reputation is at the mercy of broken, messed up people, He probably knew He would have to make this easy enough for a child to understand. Of course, much of the bible contains details on how to live in this three pronged love. But at a basic level, these three rules are easy to remember and easy to follow.
If these rules are the most important commandments, then they can be thought of as God’s 3 steps to making the right choice.
1. Does this choice allow me to love God?
The first step is asking the question, does this choice allow me to love God? Here are some points to consider.
- Would I make this choice if Jesus was right next to me?
- Could this choice tempt me to sin?
- Could this choice mean that someone or something would become more important to me than God?
- Could this choice tempt someone else to sin?
- Could this choice enhance or diminish God’s reputation?
2. Does this choice allow me to love myself?
The second step is asking the question, does this choice allow me to love myself? The concept of loving self sounds a bit prideful. The second commandment is stated, “love your neighbor as yourself.” If you “love” yourself in a healthy way, you will love your neighbor in a healthy way. If you “love” yourself in an unhealthy way, you will love your neighbor in an unhealthy way.
Instead of the word love, we might substitute “honor.”
When I love myself in a healthy way I make good choices for myself. I don’t expose myself to danger, addictions, or unsafe people. I take care of myself and seek healthy relationships, occupations, and lifestyles. Here are some points to consider.
- Could this choice cause emotional damage to myself?
- Could this choice cause intellectual damage to myself?
- Could this choice cause spiritual damage to myself?
- Could this choice cause physical damage to myself?
- Does this choice honor my gifts and strengths?
- Would this choice make me more respectable?
3. Does this choice allow me to love my neighbor?
The third questions is – does this choice allow me to love my neighbor?
My neighbor could be anybody: my spouse, my children, my extended family, my neighbors, my friends, my co-workers, etc. Sometimes the choices we make directly affect others, for instance marriage. And sometimes the choices we make indirectly affect others, for instance drinking alcohol in front of an alcoholic.
We do have to be aware of who might be watching and how they might be affected by our choices. Here are some questions to consider.
- Could this choice adversely affect someone else?
- Could this choice cause pain to someone else?
- Could this choice cause someone else to love himself less?
- Could this choice cause someone else to love God less?
- Would this choice be honorable and respectful of others?
- Could this choice damage someone emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, relationally or physically?
The right choice
If each of these 3 steps can be answered in a positive way, we can rest assured that we’ve met the basic litmus test for making a right choice. Of course, there are many other details to consider but our agonizing can be lessened over making right choices.
Most of the time, we already know if a choice is right or not. But taking the time to carefully consider these three steps can help us flesh out the reasons for our “gut” feel. Give yourself an out when there is a decision that is tempting you in a way you feel is wrong.
Sometimes we feel that there is just no right choice. But God will always provide a right way.
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide a way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB).
Above all, soak your choices in prayer. If we sincerely seek God’s guidance, He will surely give it.
Asking these three questions can save yourself a lot of heartache down the road. Your reputation may be at stake. And so may God’s.
…because U count, deb