Making Decisions by Principle

When it comes to making purchases I am a research guy. By that, I mean that before I reach the store I have used my computer to research what my best purchase would be. A couple of Christmas’s ago I bought Susie a double-oven range for Christmas. When I went to make the purchase, a salesman approached me and asked if I needed help. I responded with the brand and the model that I intended to buy.

It was a quick transaction because my decision had already been made in the quietness of my home. I experienced no pressure from the salesman or indecision caused by the other choices that were available to me. If you wait until purchase time to make your mind up, someone else is going to help make that decision for you. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in a big box store, but in life it can lead to knee-jerk decisions that you will live to regret.

One of the verses that has made a definite impact on my daily life is Proverbs 11:30, “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”

A man of integrity has already made up his mind to do the right thing before he ever faces the situation. His decision has been made in the quietness of his walk with God, and his integrity to stick to that decision becomes his guide.

A transgressor is someone with no regard for boundaries. He lives by impulse, and barges through life with no regard to the consequences of his decisions. He allows the situation to determine his ethics, and situation ethics is an unreliable guide.

It is easier to make decisions when you have predetermined principles in place, rather than deciding in the emotion of the moment. We need to make up our mind before we have to make up our mind.

In the privacy of our walk with God, away from the passion and pressure of predicaments and people, we should determine what our decision will be–before crunch time arrives.

Many years ago, I read the seventy life resolutions that Jonathan Edwards had made, and it set me to thinking about my own life and the principles that I wanted to live by. These were things that I had predetermined to help me in decision making, but I had never assembled them all together. I felt impressed to make a list of these that I could read as a reminder. I arrived at these determinations at different times in my life–often when facing situations that challenged the ideals and principles by which I lived.

Since our decisions determine our direction and our direction determines our destination, we need to make some determinations before we ever arrive at the point of decision. By doing so, we can help determine the path we walk and the destination at which we will arrive.

Here are the determinations that I listed to help guide me through life:

  • Determined to be daily in His Word and before His throne.
  • Determined to put my relationship with The Lord above all other relationships–no matter how close they may be.
  • Determined to never fear the consequences of truth.
  • Determined to always speak the truth in love.
  • Determined to not exaggerate the importance of lesser matters.
  • Determined to the best of my ability to love my wife as Christ loved the church, and to set an example that my children and my grandchildren can follow.
  • Determined to value influence more than opportunities.
  • Determined to be led by the Spirit rather than intimidated by man.
  • Determined that I have nothing to prove; I have Someone to please.
  • Determined that I will not use my Christian liberty as a tool of divisiveness.
  • Determined that I will show love to the lost, mercy to the prodigal, forgiveness to the offender, and grace to fellow believers.
  • Determined to pray for wisdom enough to hear those who lead, and humility enough to listen to those who follow.
  • Determined that my priorities will always be: Jesus, before others, before me.
  • Determined to never lessen the importance of the church that Jesus died for.
  • Determined to live my life as a giver, yet always remain grateful for what I receive.
  • Determined to earnestly seek forgiveness from those that I have wronged, and restoration with those who have wronged me.
  • Determined to be more concerned with being a friend than having a friend.
  • Determined that I will seek to advance His kingdom rather than my own.
  • Determined to not fall prey to hearsay, innuendo, or scuttlebutt, but to be man enough to go to the source.
  • Determined that I will not fall victim to either compliments or criticism.
  • Determined to find the humor in life, lest I become infected by reality.
  • Determined to approach life as a student rather than as a professor.
  • Determined to be a good steward of my health, lest my service suffer from my negligence.

Decision making becomes much more confident when we are guided by our integrity rather than our emotions. Having predetermined your decision to a situation allows you to respond rather than react. Reactionaries are guided by emotions; responder’s by integrity. Reactionaries leave a trail of shattered relationships and wounded people behind them. They don’t intend to hurt anyone, but they do so because they react emotionally to the situation.

I do not profess to have mastered all of these determinations, but I do confess that these are goals that I sincerely desire to embrace on my journey. What are your life determinations?

If you have not made your own determinations, this would be a good time to do so. Prayerfully allow the Word of God to direct you, and then determine to stay the course!

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