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LEARNING TO MAKE WISE CHOICES
Reb Bradley

Typical areas of liberty needing discretion:

Grooming: hair, clothes, make up, jewelry

Entertainment: TV, radio, music, films, electronic games

Recreation: sports, hobbies, clubs, performing arts, dancing

Education: public, private, home school, college

Relationships: friends, organizations, marriage

Possessions: homes, cars, tools, equipment, appliances

Occupations: career, parenthood, investments

Before making any decisions of significance, we should pray and ask God for wisdom.

Jam 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Here are some questions we can then ask to determine if possible activities, experiences, or relationships are wise and pleasing to God:

1. Does the Bible say anything specifically about this? Does it give related principles?

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

2. How will this choice affect us -- will it risk our moral or spiritual health in any way? Which will this feed -- our flesh or our spirit? In what way will it benefit us?

Galatians 6:8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Prov 13:20 He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

Rom 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof. (KJV)

2 Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

3. Can this become habit-forming, or give anything mastery over us? ie: Drugs, sex, smoking, music, food, TV, video games, popularity, etc

2 Pet 2:19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.

1 Cor 6:12 "Everything is permissible for me"-- but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"-- but I will not be mastered by anything.

4. Does the choice draw attention to us? Is our motive to glorify God? Will He receive glory because of it?

1 Timothy 2:9-10 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, {10} but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

5. Does the activity take excessive time or money to do? Will the investment of time or money return to us important benefit? How significantly does it contribute to our life goals?

1 Timothy 2:9-10 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, {10} but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

Mat 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

John 6:27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."

1 Cor 7:29 What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none… those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

Col 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

6. Will the exercise of our liberty cause others to perceive us as sinning? Will it cause us to lose the trust of those we want to influence for Christ?

1 Corinthians 9:22-23 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. {23} I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

7. Is this activity more important than others? If our "liberty" tempts them to violate their consciences, or causes them to not listen to us, are we willing to sacrifice it for them?

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Romans 14:19-21 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. {20} Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. {21} It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

Romans 15:1-3 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. {2} Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. {3} For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me."

1 Corinthians 10:31-33 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. {32} Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God-- {33} even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

8. Does our choice clearly distinguish us as unconformed to the world?

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. {2} Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

John 17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

James 4:4 You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

9. Does our (biblically educated) conscience tell us God is happy about our decision? Are we confident He is there with us, encouraging us in this?

Ephesians 5:10 and find out what pleases the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

Colossians 1:10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

1 Thessalonians 2:4 On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.

(Also consider Col 3:20; 1 Tim 2:3; 2 Tim 2:4; Heb 11:6)

10. How will this decision impact my family? Will my absence keep me from my family responsibilities or create difficulties in household routines?

Deuteronomy 5:16 "Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

1 Tim 5:8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Luke 11:11-13 "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? {12} Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? {13} If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

11. What guidance do our spiritual leaders (parents, husband, elders, etc.) offer about this? If we trust God is using them in our lives, does our action and attitude reflect that?

Deuteronomy 5:16 "Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Proverbs 23:22 Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.

Ephesians 6:1-2 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. {2} "Honor your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise.

Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. (See also 1 Samuel 3:13; Joshua 24:15; Acts 16:15, 33; 1 Tim 3:4-5)

12. How will this decision prepare us for our role in life? ie: career, husband/father, wife/mother, etc. Might this choice require time and energy, and do little to prepare us for our present or future roles?

Titus 2:4-5 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, {5} to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Ephesians 5:22-28 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. {23} For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. {24} Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. {25} Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her {26} to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, {27} and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. {28} In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

13. Will this decision help reinforce a clear distinction between the sexes?

1 Corinthians 11:3-15 {6} If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. {7} A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. {8} For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; {9} neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. {10} For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. … {14} Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, {15} but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.

1 Tim 2:9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes

Deu 22:5 A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.

14. Which will this more likely foster -- laziness or productivity?

Titus 3:14 Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.

1 Th 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

Eph 4:28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

15. How will this help us grow in maturity? Which will it foster more -- self indulgence or self control; foolishness or wisdom; irresponsibility or responsibility?

Mat 5:48 Be mature, therefore, as your heavenly Father is mature.

Eph 4:14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

1 Pet 2:2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,

AN ILLUSTRATION OF DECISION-MAKING

To illustrate how to make decisions using these questions, I offer the following approach to choosing appropriate hairstyles:

Does the style draw attention to us?

In 1 Timothy 2:9-10 God says we are to groom ourselves with modesty, decency, and propriety. The Greek construction of this text indicates that we are to not draw attention to ourselves by our clothes or our hair. Who then, are we to draw attention to? To God, obviously. It is He who must receive glory from all that we do. As Paul said, "whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

Is our hairstyle so extravagant that it takes excessive time or money to maintain?

Also clear in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 is that God is concerned with what motivates us to invest ourselves in vanity rather than in good deeds. He warned us to avoid hairstyles and clothes which require a lot of time or money to maintain. How much of our day is spent in front of the mirror? How much money do we spend on designer labels?

Will it cause us to lose the trust of those we want to influence for Christ?

In 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 Paul tells us that he became all things to all men to gain more for Christ. His example shows us that we shouldn’t choose hair styles which might cause others to mistrust us. Styles which might lose others’ trust could be those that many people see as representative of rebellious or sinful lifestyles.

Is our hairstyle more important than others -- are we willing to sacrifice it for those who might stumble over it?

If others might be offended by our appearance, are we willing to sacrifice our liberty to win their hearts for Christ? Or if a fellow Christian might be stumbled by our exercise of liberty, are we willing to give it up, considering he or she more important than ourselves? Paul tells us that loving others means sacrificing our liberties for their good.

Does our hairstyle clearly distinguish our gender from the opposite sex?

In 1 Corinthians 11:3-15 Paul’s instructions imply that by God's natural design, men groom themselves in a way that sets them apart from women. In a society where there is so much confusion about roles of the sexes, it is especially important that Christians communicate by their appearance that God intended the roles of men and women to be different.

Does our (biblically educated) conscience tell us God is excited about our decision?

The Christian is one who lives to please God. This means that we must not do anything which He simply "tolerates" or "puts up with," but we must only pursue that which brings Him pleasure. If we do not believe something we do brings God joy and wins us His enthusiastic support, then we must not do it. Following Jesus means we will want to evoke a smile on God's face, not a grimace

 

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