How many of us struggle with decisions? I know I do. Sometimes, I really wish I could pull a WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) magic wand out of my hat because I struggle with knowing which decision is the “right” one.
A recent conundrum occurred around Halloween. Should Christians decorate their homes, attend costume parties in frightening outfits, or maybe even watch a scary movie or two? For that matter, is it ever okay for Christians to smoke or drink, go to an R-rated movie, or hang out with a less-than-perfect crowd?
Here’s another scary topic. Who do I vote for? Is there a right or wrong candidate? What would be the right decision? Is voting one way or the other the wrong decision?
What about making a job decision? Is one job better than another? In which job will I honor God more?
It all boils down to this question: Is one of my choices more righteous than another? I long to know how I can better discern what I should do. I want to please God with my decisions.
So, this is my confession:
On the one hand, I know our decisions have no righteousness. Whether we vote Republican, Democrat, or Independent, we are sinning because we are choosing one candidate over another candidate. I know I am sinning by attending a party hosted by one neighbor instead of the other neighbor because I am choosing to love one over the other. I can never discern God’s will for a particular decision because I do not have a supernatural Gnostic knowledge of His will. No one does, so we pray, “Thy will be done.” I know I can do my best not to break the Ten Commandments, but I will. I know my outward actions are not what pleases God. It is my faith, which I have obtained by grace, not by what I have done or not done. And I know that there is nothing I can do to save myself from sin because it has all been done through the cross by Jesus Christ. But there is still a tiny part of me that wants to believe that some decisions, outside of blatant sin, must have a higher ranking in the “right” category, and I want to know which way I should turn.
By studying Luther’s Freedom of a Christian, I’ve learned we have nothing to fear from pagan holidays like Halloween. We have nothing to fear from scary costumes, scary movies, ghosts, goblins, unchurched people, or making the wrong decision.
So, what are we really afraid of?
Personally, it’s fear of what people might think of me. What will my neighbor think if he sees me in a certain situation? They know I am in ministry, and therefore, I worry they will think I should avoid certain activities and behaviors. As if my righteousness was in my deeds…
The enemy is a liar.
The devil tries to drown out the truth of Jesus, that we are saved because of Him. The enemy wants us to think our salvation is at stake if we say the wrong thing, make the wrong decision, watch the wrong movie, hang out with the wrong crowd, or celebrate the wrong holiday.
The truth is grace.
Our salvation is not earned because of choices we make one way or another! We give movies and pagan holidays and bad habits way too much credit if we think that they can ruin what Jesus has done for us! Do not give them that power. We as Christians, have the freedom to literally laugh at our foibles. When we mess up, fess up and move on.
Our fear needs to be for the Lord, not for our daily decisions. Go and love God and sin boldly.