Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend have written an excellent book on the topic entitled “Boundaries”. They assert that “having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not.” They offer a series of outstanding suggestions for setting physical, mental, emotional and spiritual boundaries. For those attempting to construct paradigms for making life-decisions, it is definitely worth the read.
There are some general principles that, in my estimation, need to be underscored. First, every decision should be bathed in prayer. That goes without saying for those who are committed to walking by faith and not by sight (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:7). Second, every effort must be made to live according to the wisdom which comes from above, not human wisdom. In this regard, several passages come to mind. A couple of these are:
— Proverbs 3:5-6, “5Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
— Ephesians 5:15-17, “15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
In addition seeking God through prayer and sincere efforts to discern His will, I’d like to share something that I picked up years ago, when I was involved in campus ministry in Lubbock, Texas. I’ve found that most of the time, when people ask me for advise about making decisions, they are caught in the rapid flow of life-events and don’t really have time to take time to read a lengthy book on the topic. So, this series of questions has proven to be helpful. I’ve re-worked it a couple of times, but it remains largely intact. For those who are wrestling with making a decision and need some help weighing the options, I’ve found these questions to be helpful:
— Is it commanded? …John 14:15; James 1:25
— Is it condemned? …Romans 1:29ff; Galatians 5:16ff
— Is it harmful to my body? …1 Corinthians 6:19-20
— Is it good stewardship? …1 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Peter 4:10
— Is it in accord with truth in Jesus? …Ephesians 4:17ff
— Will it help me set my heart on things above? …Colossians 3:1ff
— Will it harm my influence? …Matthew 5:13ff
— Will it help others see “The Light”? …John 8:12
— Will it put me in “bad company”? …1 Corinthians 15:33
— Will it edify others? myself? …Proverbs 13:20
— Could I encourage others to do it? …Hebrews 3:13
— Would I be ashamed of it? …Romans 6:19ff
— Will it glorify God? …1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Peter 4:11
— Will it grieve the Holy Spirit? …Ephesians 4:30
— Will it enslave me? …John 8:34; Romans 6:15ff
— Do I have doubts? …Romans 14:23
— Does the desire to do it come “from faith”? …Romans 14:23
Two additional passages have proven to be helpful to me, as well. These are:
1 Blessed are those
who do not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but who delight in the law of the LORD
and meditate on his law day and night.
3 They are like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will be destroyed.
— Psalm 1:1-6
— — — — — — — — — —
1LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 Those whose walk is blameless,
who do what is righteous,
who speak the truth from their hearts;
3 who have no slander on their tongues,
who do their neighbors no wrong,
who cast no slur on others;
4 who despise those whose ways are vile
but honor whoever fears the LORD;
who keep their oaths even when it hurts;
5 who lend money to the poor without interest
and do not accept bribes against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.
— Psalm 15:1-5
Well, hopefully these thoughts will be helpful for someone out there in blogland. What other principles do you find helpful? What other passages do you find beneficial when it comes to providing guidance for making decisions?
© Bill Williams, September 29, 2006