Decision-making is hard for many people, including me. (You probably better not ask my wife for stories on that subject!) Here’s something for you to consider about Christian decision-making that might make things a lot harder because it adds one more element to consider. Or it just might make some decisions easier . . .
Imagine you are considering a job offer in a new city. There are lots of things to consider: salary, schools, economy, climate, extended family, neighborhoods, and more. The more things on that list, the harder the decision gets. But sometimes one element stands out above the rest as so important that the decision gets easier. For example, if you had a job offer in each of these four neighborhoods, which would you choose?
Clearly #1 is the most desirable place to live. Few people would accept a job if it required living in #4, no matter the salary or climate or any other factor on the list.
But what if these pictures were not physical representations of a place but pictures of the spiritual condition of that place? The reality of a place is not always visible to our eyes. We are all in a physical environment every minute of the day that we can see, but we are also always in a spiritual environment that we cannot see. The prophet Elisha taught that lesson to his servant in 2 Kings 6:8–17 (see Numbers 22:31 for another example).
The spiritual environments around us are more important than the physical environments, and I suggest to you that a $100,000 salary is not worth living in a spiritual #4 environment.
Here’s another example. Imagine you are considering which church to join. There are lots of things to consider: friendliness, distance, worship times, service opportunities, and more. But I suggest to you that none of these things are worth worshiping in a spiritual #3.
Another example—imagine you are considering which college to attend or which grade school to send your kids to. There are lots of things to consider: tuition, distance, sports, size, and more. Again, I suggest to you that sports are not a worthy enough factor to choose a spiritual #2 school instead of a #1.
Should you take a job in a new city? Which church should you join? What about Sunday morning sports? Which movie or TV show should you pick on Friday night? The Devil hopes you look at these environments and a thousand more only with physical eyes. He wants you to think, “These pictures are all exaggerations. There really isn’t such a big difference between one place and another.” He wants you to think all environments are spiritually neutral—but they aren’t.
The Devil wants you to think, “Even if it is granted that there are spiritual differences between one place and another, I can handle it. The benefit to my life of a physical $100,000 is greater than the danger to my life of spiritual poverty.” He wants you to think the physical factors outweigh the spiritual—but they don’t.
The Devil wants you to think, “OK fine, spiritual environments are important. But as long as a church has Jesus, they’re all the same.” He wants you to have tunnel vision, thinking only one piece of the picture is important and nothing else matters. But that’s like buying a house because it has a nice front door and ignoring the roof that is caving in.
There are many factors in both big and little decisions that make it hard to choose what to do. But sometimes one factor is so important that the decision gets easier. I once knew a man who was an officer in the Coast Guard. He and his family moved every few years, but as an officer he usually had his choice of three or four duty stations. For him, the most important factor was a Christian day school for his kids. What for many people can be an agonizing decision usually took this man only five minutes. He chose whichever duty station was a spiritual #1, and when looking back on his life after retirement he told me he never regretted where they ended up.
My friends, may God bless your decision-making. “Blessed are the eyes that see what you have seen” (Luke 10:23).