Dangerous Decision Making (Part 1)

A farmer hired a man to work for him. He told him his first task was to paint the barn and that it should take him about three days to complete. But the hired man finished in one day.  Then, the farmer set him to cutting wood, telling him it would require about 4 days. The hired man finished in a day and a half, to the farmer’s amazement. The next task was to sort out a large pile of potatoes. He was to arrange them into three piles: seed potatoes, food for the hogs, and potatoes good enough to sell. The farmer said it was a small job and shouldn’t take long at all. At the end of the day the farmer came back and found that the hired man had barely started. “What’s the matter here” the farmer asked. “I can work hard, but I can’t make decisions!” (taken from studylight.org, source unknown)

Hasty Decisions

Decisions making has been a topic in the corporate world for decades.  I have seen articles on the “one minute manager,” “the art of decision making,” “7 steps to proper decision making,” and “how to have clarity in the fog.”  Sometimes, I need to make a decision that is pretty important, and at times, the initial reaction in my heart is to deal with it quickly and put it out of my head.  As I pondered this tendency recently, I went to Scripture to see if this was a good response to have in major decision making.  Here’s what I found: 

“He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly” (Proverbs 14:29).

“The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want” (Proverbs 21:5).

“A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent” (Proverbs 28:20).

“Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him” (Proverbs 29:20).

“Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2).

“Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

As you can see in Scripture, hastiness in decision making does not seem to be a Biblical trait.  I understand that one can procrastinate and “hem-haw” not wanting to make a decision because one does not want to deal with the fall-out from it.  This is not what we are addressing.  We also are not addressing picking out your socks, tie or menu item at the fast food joint.  Those are all mundane, everyday things that we should learn to decide on and not fret over.  What we are addressing is the tendency to be hasty in making life changing decisions about yourself or those that are close to you.  This could be in reference to the leadership within your own family or in the church which God has set you as the under shepherd. The Bible gives many clear directives to help in making wise choices in our lives. 

As we start thinking about decision making, let’s consider the hastiness of Moses when he felt led to stand with his native people, the children of Israel.

“And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren.  And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.  And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?  And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known” (Exodus 2:11-14). 

We know from Biblical history that Moses was chosen by God to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, but he was hasty in his decision making process.  He had not learned God’s way of making decisions.  God had to send him into the wilderness for 40 years to learn the patience of waiting for God’s leading and pathway.

Wisdom for Decisions

Many years ago in my college days, I stood at a point along the Continental Divide high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  The Continental Divide is unique because it is the place at which the waters of a small stream separate. It would not seem to matter much whether a drop of water goes to the left or to the right. But at the top of the Continental Divide the outcome of those drops of water is totally different. One drop goes west, flowing into the Colorado River, and emptying eventually into the Pacific Ocean. Another drop goes east until it flows into the Mississippi River and dumps into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Two drops of water can end up in two entirely different destinations.  How is this possible? Because one small turning point determines the result.

Many choices in life are like that. At the time of decision, they don’t seem significant. But those choices set in motion a series of events which shape lives and the lives of your children and grandchildren after you. If we could sit down with a few dozen folks and let them share how they came to know Christ as Savior, I would guess that many chose to go somewhere where they met someone who started talking to them.   This in turn led to a chain of events resulting in salvation. The original choice wasn’t a big deal, but the outcome was life-changing.

We must make decisions daily.  Some are not as pressing as others, and we can ask God for wisdom in just guiding our steps in the right “path of righteousness.”  This is seen in real-life situations in the Bible. 

Let’s consider an Old Testament example.

In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.  And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.   And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.   And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.   Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?   And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.   And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;   Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee” (I Kings 3:5-12). 

Here King Solomon realized that daily he would be making decisions and he needed a heart of understanding and wisdom.  Solomon discerned wisely that only God could give him this.  He was given a gift from God—the ability to make wise choices throughout his kingdom.  Notice though, that this was not a “blank” check of wisdom by which Solomon never had to come to God ever again.  Solomon was unwise in some choices within his marriages and choices of luxury.  All one has to do is read the book of Ecclesiastes to find this out.  Yet, Christ recognized Solomon as the wisest man on the earth.  Why? Because Solomon sought God to direct his daily thoughts and actions. When Solomon refused to follow God, God says in the above context that His blessing would not be upon his life.

“And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments…”

(I Kings 3:14).

The pathway of wisdom is predicated on walking in the godly path that God has laid out for the believer.

In the New Testament, Christ gives us a pertinent story:

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:   And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.   And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:   And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27). 

Clearly, God desires us to use the wisdom that He has given us.  The key is to get wisdom from God and not from within ourselves or the world.  Other New Testament passages address this also:

“Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:   But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory” (I Corinthians 2:6-7).

“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.   For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.   And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.   Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;   Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;   And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (I Corinthians 3:18-23). 

God’s way of thinking is opposite both of the world and the devil.  We must make sure that we are seeking the throne of heaven for godly wisdom.  The Bible indicates in the books of Proverbs and James that God is the giver of wisdom.  No amount of book learning can substitute for the learning that comes from God’s Word.

As we have considered decision making in the Bible, we are finding that a hasty spirit is contradictory to a Biblically-directed life.  This is to say that we cannot make decisions throughout our day, but there must be a constant, steady submitting to the Word of God and the Spirit of God, applying His wisdom throughout our daily tasks.

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