Indecision can be tough! With every thought, word, and action, my spirit always desires to be in line with the Bible, and what will be God-honoring. The problem I have with my overly-analytical mind is that sometimes I think up too much justification for either side of a debate. So I end up deciding nothing–feeling anxious during the conflict and guilty afterwards.
I shouldn’t be surprised that decisions aren’t always easy. The idea of having to act differently in different situations or dealing with diverse personalities is repeated in several places in the Bible including Proverbs 26:4-5 and Jude 1:22-23.
The question then arises–how do we choose which approach to use in which moments?
Although I am unable to provide advice tailored to all of your particular struggles, there are some guiding principles that are helpful to keep in mind.
1. Deal with the problem pleasantly and decisively if possible.
Matthew 5:25 states, “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.”
The lesson here is that you don’t want to become embroiled in conflict unnecessarily if it is an issue you can work out by yourselves. Perhaps you are the guilty party and can give in when it comes to a small issue–providing reparation and/or apology. Another strategy could also be to frame your argument from a place of love and friendship according to Proverbs 16:21: “The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.” If your intention is for a peaceful resolution for both parties, and your requests are sweetened with the other person’s point of view in mind, your opponent may be more willing to listen.
Undoubtedly, it can be hard to act and speak from a position of humility when you are upset about something bad that is happening to someone you love. But Galatians 6:1-3 instructs us: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”
A lot of times, people will say that if you speak a word in criticism of another’s actions, you are self-righteous. But the Bible directly tells us in the above verse to let our friends know when they are doing something wrong. What we need to watch out for isn’t judging right from wrong, but checking in with our own hearts in the process–whether that means we are in danger of being similarly tempted in what the brother is struggling with, or forgetting our equal status as children of God. If I am condemning my friend while sitting there thinking about how great I am, or about how I could never do something like that, that is where I am led astray.
2. Don’t be pressured to make a snap decision if the solution does not immediately appear.
You have the right to take time to pray, think, and seek wise counsel if you are having a hard time making up your mind. Proverbs 21:5 reminds us that “The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” If I am rushing only to get the issue over with and haven’t considered whether or not immediacy is the best course of action, I may be guilty of picking the easy way out.
First, the most important opinion to get on any issue is always God’s. Just read the books of 1st and 2nd Samuel. The mighty and faithful King David asked for God’s guidance before every move and every battle. No wonder God took him from the sheepfold to the wilderness to the throne.
Also a good source of wisdom are your Christian friends who are well-versed in the Bible. Especially friends who are older than you who have already weathered many of the storms of life. Proverbs 11:4 puts it this way: “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” In summary, we want our actions to stand, and relying on the support of those who love and care for us can help us make the best choices for our lives.
3. Try not to be too stressed out, whichever course that you choose to take.
If the problem is not something you can handle immediately, enjoy your life in the meantime knowing that you are doing the best that you can and that you are working with intention–you have made a plan and you will not put the matter off forever.
Be confident even if you can’t see the end, or any possibility of victory. It might not be immediate. It probably will be painful. But I try and keep in mind all the times that God has delivered me from my worries in the past. Think about how this trial may act as an encouragement to others and a strengthener of your own faith and knowledge, leading you to let your light shine more and more in the future. A great psalm to recite to remember God’s protection is Psalm 34–I will just give you verse 19: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” We are not promised a problem-free life–in fact, we are promised quite the opposite. But we don’t have to fight our battles alone. God does not leave us defenseless against our enemies.
If I find myself lacking motivation to act, I think about how little the discomfort I feel standing up for God matters in comparison to the shame I feel when I don’t. I think about how I could have touched someone, stood in the gap and shifted the balance of good vs. evil, but I didn’t because I was too afraid of losing what God already gave me. I remember that I’d rather be known for being a Christian and be loved by a few then be loved by all and not have the power to connect to and inspire others who are feeling the same way I am.
When I do decide wrong and I am overcome with negative emotions, I remember how all of Jesus’s closest disciples abandoned him before the cross and they still turned it around to build the early church and transform the world.
I am so thankful for the doctrine of grace, that God is faithful to forgive and cleanse us. That “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:7).
I am also thankful that God desires to help us with our troubles. After telling the story of the irritating neighbor that just kept asking until he got what he wanted, Jesus says in Luke 11:
And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
For all of these reasons, I can pray with boldness,
God, I ask you to help the person reading this post, who has taken the time to seek Your face. You know the worries on their hearts and the needs in their lives. Make Your presence known to them during their trials, wrapping them in Your promises and love. Be faithful to forgive them when they choose wrong, and direct them in love so that they may be more effectual towards Your kingdom. Make all the enemies and plans against them fall. In Jesus’s name, Amen.