I Thessalonians 5:21-22 — Put all things to the test: keep what is good and avoid every kind of evil.
By Rick Warren, in his Daily Hope devotional blog, April 27-May 3, at: www.pastorrick.com
In these devotions Pastor Rick Warren offers some good, practical advice, listing six ‘tests’ (questions) to ask yourself as you make your decisions.
#1 — THE IDEAL TEST
There’s no doubt about it. Today we’re faced with more decisions than ever before. We live in a multiple-choice culture. And sometimes even little decisions are like the hinges that let a giant door swing—they seem small, but can completely change the direction of your life.
Since decisions matter so much, we must be wise in how we make them. Proverbs 2:3-5 says:
If you want better insight and discernment . . . learn the importance of reverence for the Lord and of trusting him . . . He shows how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time. (TLB)
How do you listen to God when making a decision? Look at his Word. I like to call this the Ideal Test. Do your decisions and actions line up with God’s will? Are they in harmony with God’s Word?
You have two choices about who your ultimate authority will be: the world or God’s Word—what other people say or what God says. If you base your decisions on current popular opinion, you’ll always be on shaky ground because culture changes every day. On the other hand, if you base your decisions on God’s Word, you’ll have a solid foundation because his truth never changes.
Recently I went up into the attic of our house. The attic light had burned out. I was walking around in the dark and kept bumping my head. “I need a flashlight,” I thought. Sometimes when you’re making a decision, you may feel like you’re bumping around in the dark. Fortunately, God’s given you a flashlight: the Bible.
Psalm 119:105 says: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
And when the light of God’s Word makes your choice clear, just obey—even if you don’t understand. I don’t understand electricity, but that doesn’t stop me from turning on lights and watching my television. I don’t understand the physics of internal combustion, but I still drive a car.
You don’t need to understand why God says what he does in the Bible to benefit from it. You just need to obey his instruction and follow his principles. He gives his instructions for your benefit, and you’ll be blessed as a result of following them.
#2 — THE INTEGRITY TEST
When it comes to making decisions—big or small—the Bible offers plenty of wisdom. One principle it offers over and over again is what I call the Integrity Test. When you’re making a decision, ask yourself, “Would I want everyone to know about this decision?”
If the thought of other people finding out about your decision worries you, then you’re probably making the wrong decision. Bad decisions lead to secrecy, and that kind of secret always leads to pain in your life. The Bible says: “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9).
Notice it doesn’t say “might be found out” or even “probably will be found out.” You will be found out. You’ve seen how this happens. You’re about to make a bad choice. You know it’s wrong, but you think, “I’ll go ahead and do it because no one will ever know.”
Then, as soon as the decision is made, you think, “Somebody’s going to find out!” And you feel the fear that comes from that. That’s when you’ve violated the Integrity Test. When you have integrity, your public life and your private life match. What’s in your heart is the same as what other people see on the outside. What you say and what you do are in harmony.
The truth is, when it comes to integrity, you may fool everyone else, but you can’t fool yourself. And if you violate your own conscience, you have to pay for that. James 4:17 says, “Knowing what is right to do and then not doing it is sin” (TLB). When making a decision, ask yourself: Can I do this with a clear conscience?
Violating your conscience is a big mistake. God will forgive you for the wrong you do. But forgiveness doesn’t free you from the consequences of bad decisions. You can be forgiven and still have regrets. You can be forgiven and still face pain. You can be forgiven and still have broken relationships.
The next time you’re faced with a decision, follow the Integrity Test. Ask: Am I okay with other people finding out about this decision? Can I make this choice with a clear conscience? Do I believe this is wrong? The Integrity Test will help keep you on the path that God knows is for your good. (continued…)