Many of our decisions are routine and without moral significance: What shall I wear to work in the garden today? Then there are the big ones. If a proposal of marriage should come on Valentine’s Day, should I accept? Consequences either way would be long term.
Our grandson, Zach, once told me of a talk he heard on wise decision-making given by a doctor at a meeting of the Christian Medical Fellowship. What impressed him about the talk was the common sense of the doctor’s outline.
He identified two reference points for making life-shaping decisions — “righteousness” and “wisdom.”
Righteousness, the doctor said, equips us with an unshakable standard. The Ten Commandments in the Bible are a base for facing life’s most critical issues, and that standard, we find, is already written into our consciences.
For example, we are to have no other gods but the true God — the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are to reverence God’s name; to show honor to our parents; and we are not to steal, or bear false witness. Issues like these are not negotiable.
According to the doctor, a second element is needed in decision making and that is wisdom. This is the application of common sense in accordance with our grasp of the above deeply rooted standard of righteousness.
We apply the two together to the specific decisions we must make. For example, God’s righteousness tells us we are not to walk in the counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1). In the light of that instruction, wisdom helps us to choose our friends wisely.
Wisdom allows us to maintain our commitments to righteousness while we wrestle with the endless variables of life. In doing so our solid footing does not give way while we tread through the process of deciding.
The doctor’s point that appealed most to Zach was this: when we take righteousness seriously as a fixed point but must make a decision unguided by chapter-and-verse, we can go forward confidently and carefully apply the best wisdom we have.
And when we go ahead, Zach continued, with the best wisdom at our disposal, we are saved from the paralysis of second-guessing ourselves. We remain staunch while we decide.
All of this reflects the wisdom of master decision number one: to follow Christ wholeheartedly. When we stay close to him we stay close to his righteousness and his wisdom.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, It is because of [God] that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — He is the righteousness of God to us and he is (at the same time) the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Photo credit: Richard Elzey (via flickr.com)