Spiritual Decision Making: Good and RightPosted: April 26, 2011
Continuing on with thoughts on spiritual decision making…
In my first post, I discussed my conviction that God doesn’t give us detailed instructions on how to live every aspect of our lives – despite the fact that lots of people seem to look for that kind of specific guidance.
In my second post, I discussed the idea that it honors God when we acknowledge our preferences, and allow him to overrule. On the back end of that, I suggested that our preference doesn’t necessarily drag us away from the will of God. I want to expand on that in this post.
As I’ve mentioned before, there is this prevalent idea that there is one, and only one, perfect option in any decision that has to be made. This choice is the will of God – it is right, and all others are wrong. Again, I don’t think this is a correct way of thinking.
Consider Paul’s decision-making process in Philippians 1:19-26… he is not deciding between two options only one of which is right, but between two options that are both acceptable to God. Notice that one option, to depart and be with Christ, is “better by far”, but that’s not the option Paul chooses. I reason that if there is only one “right” option in any choice, then Paul made a mistake by not choosing the “better by far” option. But since he didn’t choose this, I have to conclude that the other option, to remain, was morally acceptable as well.
So if Paul could face a choice wherein both options were morally acceptable, may we not do so as well? Must we be locked into a mode of thinking that insists on there being only one “right” choice?
I believe that often we are faced with choices in which the options are morally neutral – neither right or wrong in an absolute sense. When faced with such choices, other considerations beyond the rightness and wrongness of the options need to be taken into account. This goes back to what I mentioned at the beginning – preference. If several choices are acceptable, then there is nothing inherently wrong in following my preference (provided of course that my preferences are guided by the word of God).
But you’ll notice that Paul didn’t do what I’m saying. While I firmly believe that preference is an acceptable criterion, at least in this situation Paul didn’t follow his preference to depart and be with the Lord. That leads me to another important factor, which I’ll get into next time.