ABC’s of Decision Making, Part I

Decisions, decisions. We make them every day! Many of the decisions we make are very minor. For example, what will I eat for breakfast? What kind of toothpaste will Icoin flip use? What kind of car will I drive? Will I part my hair on the left or the right? Or perhaps, no part at all? Will I drink my coffee with cream, or without? What kind of shoes will I wear, lace-ups, or slip-ons? Where will I take my family for vacation this year?

I could go on and on. I’m sure you could make a list of your own similar decisions. These decisions are, at least in view of eternity, inconsequential.

But other decisions we make are of greater significance. Where will I work? Will I be married? If so, whom will I marry? Will I have children? If so, how will I provide for my family? Will I be a Christian? Not just a Christian, but a faithful Christian. Will I study the Bible? Or will I look upon God’s word as a trivial matter? These decisions have far more lasting consequences. Some of these decisions have eternal consequences.

How should we arrive at the decisions we make? While a “flip of the coin” may be a satisfactory method of making some decisions, no reasonable person would want to make a major, life changing decision in such a haphazard manner. Decisions of any real significance involve serious thought and deliberation. Obviously, it’s possible for a person to make not only wise choices, but unwise choices as well. How can a person know he has made a wise decision? Let’s consider a few tips that should be helpful in the decision making process. What I call, the ABC’s of decision making.

For now, let’s consider the the letter A, as it reminds us to ALWAYS be AWARE of others when making decisions.  Consider the tragic decision of Achan, recorded for us in Joshua 7:1-26. In Joshua chapter six, God had given the Israelites instructions as to how they were to be victorious in capturing the city of Jericho. Notice God’s instructions to Joshua in Joshua 6:2-5: “And the Lord said to Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns; and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.

God had also stipulated that when the city of Jericho was captured all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron were to be consecrated to the Lord. Not one of the Israelites was to keep these things for himself (Joshua 6:17-19).

After taking Jericho, the Israelites next step was to take the city of Ai. However, the Israelites met with unexpected resistance. Thirty-six Israelites died in the battle (Joshua 7:2-5).

Joshua mourned over the Israelites’ defeat. Listen to Joshua’s words of despair, recorded in Joshua 7:7-9: “And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies? For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?”

God explained to Joshua that the Israelites’ loss was due to their sin in the camp.  Joshua began an inquiry in order to find out whose sin had caused the defeat before the city of Ai. Joshua began with the heads of the tribes, then with the heads of the families, then the heads of the households in succession to one family, then to individual persons within that family. It wasn’t long before Joshua found the guilty party.

As it turned out, Achan had let his greed get the best of him. Achan confessed that he took a garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight. Achan buried them in the earth in the midst of his tent. When Joshua sent messengers to Achan’s tent, they found the spoils buried right where Achan said they were. After the messengers took these things to Joshua, Joshua took Achan, along with his sons and daughters, to the valley of Achor. The children of Israel then stoned Achan along with his sons and his daughters and afterward burned them as God had commanded (Joshua 7:15).

But notice Joshua 7:1 – “the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing.” It was Achan who had sinned. But Achan’s sin had brought disgrace upon the whole nation, caused the death of thirty-six men in battle, and later resulted in the death of his sons and his daughters.

Achan’s actions remind us that the decisions we make affect far more than just ourselves. The choices we make often affect our parents, our spouses, our children, our coworkers, our friends, and our neighbors.  The next time you make a major decision, remember to ALWAYS be AWARE of others!

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