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.
#3 — THE IMPROVEMENT TEST
You make many decisions every day. Most are ones you don’t even need to think about—like deciding to brush your teeth in the morning or to fill up your almost-empty gas tank. Others are matters of right or wrong, where you can rely on the wisdom of the Bible and your conscience.
Sometimes, though, you have to decide between a good option and a best option. In situations like that, use the Improvement Test. The Improvement Test asks: Will this make me a better person?
The Bible talks about this in I Corinthians 10:23: “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.”
Notice in those verses the freedom you have. But as a Christian, even though you can do something, it may not be beneficial for you; not everything builds you up.
Some things are not necessarily wrong—they’re just not necessary. They’re not the best.
Most choices you make in life are not between good and evil. You need to have a higher standard than right and wrong. You need to use the Improvement Test and ask what will make you a better person.
Are these things always bad? No. Are they often a waste of time? Yes. Will they make you a better person? Probably not. So, the reality is, many people are spending their lives on second-class causes. But you don’t have to.
So as you make choices every day, don’t ask: Is there anything wrong with this? Instead, ask: Is this making me a better person? Don’t coast along, filling up your life with things that aren’t the best. Instead, take the things you spend your life on and hold them up against God’s Word to see if they’re the best.
#4 — THE INDEPENDENCE TEST
The Bible is full of wisdom for decision-making. In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul says, “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything” (ESV).
When deciding whether to allow something into your life, you can think of this as the Independence Test.
Ask yourself: Could this begin to control and dominate my life? Could it become addicting to me? Could I become dependent on it? No matter how fun something is, it’s bad for you if it becomes an addiction.
Why is this so important? Because whatever dominates your life eventually becomes your god. The first of God’s Ten Commandments—says, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3 NIV). God knew how easily you could slip into worshiping other things. He knew you could get addicted to your idols.
What are idols? You likely think of idols as something in the past—maybe little stone statues that people put on a shelf and worshiped. But people still have idols today. Maybe you worship the maker of your car, the label in your clothing, or the corner office in your building.
That’s not to mention all of the things you can become addicted to: Work. Sex. Money. The Internet. The list is endless.
How do you know if you’ve fallen into an addiction? How do you know if something is starting to dominate your life—when you no longer are independent of it? Ask yourself: What do I think about the most? When I’m alone, where does my mind go?
Paul decided not to let anything—other than Christ—control his life. Jesus is the only one that’s worthy of that place in your life, too. Anything else that you put in that place will eventually dominate and ruin your life. But when Christ is in control, he encourages, enables, and empowers you.
The next time you’re deciding whether something is in its proper place in your life, use the Independence Test. Christ is the only one who deserves your dependence. (continued…)
Grant to us, Lord, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
—Book of Common Prayer