Decisions, decisions. We make them every day. But how can we be sure we are deciding wisely? How can we know we are making the right choices in life? As we continue to look at the “ABC’s of Decision Making” we remember, from a previous post, that the letter “A” reminds us to Always be Aware of Others. The letter “B” reminds us to always Base Our Decisions on Biblical Principles.
What are some of these Biblical principles? First, making the right decision often requires going against the common thinking of the majority of people. We must be willing to “stand out in a crowd.” In Exodus 23:2 we read, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.” Perhaps no better example of this principle can be found than that of Pilate (Re: Matthew 27:11-26). At the Feast of the Passover it was customary to release a prisoner. Pilate asked the people, “Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?” The people, because they had been persuaded by the chief priests and the elders, responded, “Barabbas.” When Pilate then asked what he should do with Jesus, the crowd responded “Let him be crucified.” Pilate found no guilt in Jesus but, because of the pressure of the crowd, he turned Jesus over to be scourged and later crucified. Pilate foolishly thought he could wash his hands of the matter and tried to declare his innocence (Matthew 27:24).
Friends, for you and me to make right decisions we must often be willing to go against the crowd. We must be willing to speak out against the majority. We must never follow a multitude to do evil.
Second, making the right decision may require going against our civil authorities. In Acts 5:17-29, the High Priest, acting out of anger, put the apostles in prison. But during the night, an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and told the apostles to go to the temple and preach. Not surprisingly, the apostles went to the temple early the next morning and taught the gospel to any who would hear. When news spread as to the apostles’ whereabouts, the apostles were brought before the high priests. The high priest asked them, “Did we not straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” Peter and the other apostles answered and said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
The scriptures clearly speak of the need for Christians to be obedient to civil authorities (Romans 13:1-6). But where a conflict exists between the requirements of our government and the requirements of God, making the right decision requires us to obey God rather than men.
Third, making the right decision cannot involve going against our faith. In Romans Chapter 14, the apostle Paul encouraged those of the church at Rome not to become involved in unnecessary disputes, or strife, over issues that we might commonly think of as scruples. Specifically, Paul contrasted the weak (who were, because of their lesser knowledge, overly strict concerning the eating of meats that had been offered to idols) with the strong (who, because of their sufficient knowledge of the scriptures, saw no problem with the eating of these meats that had been offered to idols). Paul taught that, as Christians, we are to strive for unity in matters of Christian liberty and not force our particular “scruples” on others. Our decisions must be made on the teachings of the scriptures. But, where this is a lack of clear teaching on a particular subject, we must ensure that our decisions do not violate our conscience (Romans 14:23).