What are your criteria for making decisions? I know for most of us the first thing we consider is how this action would benefit us. It seems like the majority of our decisions in life are guided by self-interest. Self-interest is the engine that propels most of us in life.
How do we determine what is in our best interest? Sometimes self-interest, in the way we commonly understand it, is not only wrong but it could lead us into all kinds of trouble. We see an example of this in the book of Joshua.
In Joshua chapter 6 the Israelites were getting ready to attack the city of Jericho. Joshua instructed the Israelites to “…keep yourself from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it”.
Lo and behold one Israelite named Achan decides to take some of the things that were devoted to destruction for himself. In Joshua chapter 7 we see how he was tempted and fell into sin. We read in Joshua chapter 7:21 “when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak… and 200 shekels of silver…a bar of gold…; then I coveted them and took them.”
In this verse we see the path to sin. It all starts with …seeing something beautiful…then coveting it…and finally taking it. If we were going to make the application of this verse broader we could see that the root to most sin originates in self-interest or self-delight.
We come across a situation in life that either delights or benefits us. We think about it and come to the conclusion that we really want to have this thing or go in this direction.
Then comes the coveting. We think about how this situation, or direction will benefit us. We can only think of it’s delight and benefits. We dwell on its beauty and benefits, and allow our imagination to conjure up all the things that can be done only if we go in this direction.
The only problem is, that this direction or thing is not in line with the revealed will of God. What do we do? Do we go ahead or do we turn away in spite of all the benefits. This is the path to sin. When self-interest comes into collision with God’s prohibition.
Most of us would go through an inner struggle at this juncture. Deep down in our hearts we know what God would have us do, but our hearts have been captured by all the benefits that we could gain. There lies the struggle.
We try to console our conscience by asking the Lord’s will. But we don’t hear anything, because in these junctures the Lord will leave the decision to us. Do we choose based on our observation or based on the revealed will of God?
I wish I could say, that when I have come upon these decisions in the past that I chose according to the will of God. But sadly there were times when I loved certain things above the Lord and chose according to my self-interest and self-delight. But I have lived long enough to regret these decisions. Our true self interest lies in doing things God’s way. Every time I went contrary to that, I ended up regretting it. Are you struggling with a decision in your life that you know is contrary to the will of God? Then don’t do it. A true believer would become unhappy and sad inside even if things worked out the way we thought.
That deep sadness is not worth whatever we may gain. Our self-interest always lies with doing things in accordance to God’s will. Ultimately no situation or circumstance has the final say in our lives. But the Lord can turn our circumstances into what is best for us.
May the Lord be with you all