March 2, 2016
In a discussion about personal preferences that can divide followers of Jesus, Romans 14:13 says, “Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” The context of the discussion is about the stumbling blocks, but the part I am pondering is decision making: “Make up your mind.”
Quick decisions are sometimes important. We don’t take time to decide about getting away from a dangerous animal or moving inside during a hailstorm. But far too many opportunities are lost due to poor decision making. People need to make up their mind as to what is right or wrong and then take the appropriate action.
Joseph was far from home and surrounded by influences counter to what he had been taught. When pursued by an attractive opportunity to sin, he said he could not commit this sin against God. He made up his mind to run from it, which cost him some time in prison through false accusations, but the end of the story is amazing (read about it in Genesis 37-50).
Many years later, Daniel (chapter 1) made up his mind to eat vegetables rather than the food prepared for the king – most likely because of its connection to idol worship. He approached the situation with grace and God honored his decision.
In Philippians 2, the Apostle Paul wrote: “Have this attitude in yourselves” and then told us to make up our mind like Jesus did. We make correct choices when we make up our mind ahead of time to do what is right – not what feels good or what might be the mindset of our peers.
Talk to anyone who has made good choices during their life and nearly always they will admit that certain things were established in their mind before decision time arrived. Whoever came up with the idea that “failing to plan is planning to fail” must have been talking from experience.
If the people addressed in Romans 14 had made up their mind ahead of time to put the value of individuals above personal preferences – even cultural and religious traditions – they most likely would have salvaged relationships and honored God.
Pastor Bill Ehmann