Deciding Ahead Of Time


I’m a home body. Most of the time I’d be most content to spend the day, the evening, at home. I know other people like to go new places and have different experiences. That’s not me. It never has been me. Mostly I go to places I have to go: the grocery store and the like. You’d be right to think I sound borderline agoraphobic. Except, I’m not afraid. I just like home best.

So on occasion I have things come up that require me to go somewhere: a writers’ meeting, church, lunch or a movie with friends, church. What I realized was that I would try to hold out to the last minute to actually make the decision to go, especially if no one was actually expecting me to be somewhere.

Like church.

Every Sunday I found myself wrestling with myself to decide to go. Until I made up my mind to go to church because I go to church.

I recently realized this was the type of making up his mind that Daniel did. He and his friends had been hauled off to Babylon, put into the special training program for future service to the king, and given special food. Probably meat offered to idols, though the Bible only says it was the kings choice meat and wine.

Daniel decided not to defile himself. Since meat is not defiling in and of itself, by implication I conclude there was something connected to false religion in the killing or preparing of this meat. (Could have been that the blood had not been drained out as God required of the Jews. We don’t really know).

The point is, Daniel didn’t sit down day after day and argue himself into not eating that food. He made up his mind. He went about getting his food changed by following the proper channels. When there was reluctance to go with his plan, he negotiated. Because he’d made up his mind ahead of time.

I think Christian disciplines are like that. Should I get up early to read my Bible? Should I go to church the Sunday? Should I pray today? Should I memorize Scripture?

All those things we can decide, and then stick with our decision. It’s almost like asking, Should I eat breakfast? Should I go to the gym? Should I walk the dog? There are some things that seem optional until we realize they hold something critical for our well being.

Daniel took care of his problem right from the start:

Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. (Daniel 1:8)

I wonder how many self-arguments and struggles to make decisions I would save myself if I simply made up my mind ahead of time.

Published in: on May 15, 2019 at 4:30 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , ,

Decision Making


Whether we like it or not, we all need to make decisions of one kind or another. Some choices, like when to get up in the morning or whether to shower before heading out the door, don’t seem like decisions any more because we’ve done them so long they’ve become a habit.

Mixed in with those automatic decisions are hundreds of smaller ones we make without realizing we are. Do I stop three feet behind the car in front of me or seven? Do I wear the blue or the black? Do I have a piece of toast with my cereal or not? Do I stop at the post office on my way to work or after? Do I take a jacket? And on and on.

Besides these daily, almost trivial decisions, are the Big Decisions of Life–who to marry, what school to attend, what job to apply for. Then there are the life changing decisions–will I read God’s Word today? Who should I pray for? How should I pray?

Interestingly, the Old Testament gives us three kings of Israel who model different decision-making styles. First was King David. He repeatedly went to God and asked for specific leading. Should he go up against this army, should he stay in that city? In return, God answered him quite specifically, at one point even giving instructions about setting up an ambush.

David wasn’t perfect. He didn’t ask God about how he should bring the ark into the place he prepared for it, for example, and a man died as a result. But on the whole, as God indicated, David was a man after God’s own heart. Despite his sin with Bathsheba and the resulting death of her husband, God said David’s heart was “wholly devoted to the Lord his God” and that he followed the Lord fully.

1 Samuel 17 tells us “the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day [of his anointing] forward.” David, then, had the Spirit of God and he inquired of God. He remained faithful to God, loving and serving Him to the end.

His son Solomon who took the throne next, encountered God and when given the opportunity to ask for anything he desired, asked for wisdom. God granted that request, but nowhere does Scripture say His Spirit came upon Solomon. He, too, made mistakes, marrying foreign women and setting up places of worship for their gods. When he was confronted, he did not repent as David had, but remained resistant. In summary, he had God’s wisdom, but he relied on himself. As a result of his decisions, he brought God’s displeasure.

The third king is Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. He was confronted with a decision right away–should he lighten the load of servitude on the people as they asked? He had the elders who counseled his father and he asked them what he should do. Yes, lighten the burden, they advised. Apparently Rehoboam didn’t like that answer because he turned around and asked a group of counselors his own age. Be tougher than your father, they said. And that’s the path Rehoboam decided to follow. The result of that decision was civil war.

Three kings. Three methods of decision making:

  • David, filled with God’s Spirit, inquired of God.
  • Solomon, gifted with God’s wisdom, followed the influence of his wives
  • Rehoboam, provided with the counsel of elders, listened to the counselors who told him what he wanted to hear

The most apparent thing in the decision-making process of these kings seems to me to be whether or not they were filled with God’s Spirit.

It’s instructive to look at a fourth king at this point–King Saul. Scripture tells us the Spirit of God also came upon him, though He did not stay. Why? Saul inquired of God, heard what He had to say, then did as he pleased. In practice he behaved more like Rehoboam than like David.

Decision making? I’d say David should be the model. First he had a right relationship with God, and then he more often than not asked God what he was to do. In the end, he trusted and obeyed.

%d bloggers like this: