Jeremiah 17:10, “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
Proverbs 1:31, “Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.”
(Also Proverbs 31:31, Psalm 128:1-2 and Proverbs 10:16)
Everyday we make a multitude of choices! From what we eat, to what we will wear, to what we choose to say,…or not to say; whether we will share gossip or share the Gospel; whether we will read our Bible and pray this day or not; whether we will have a good attitude today or not; whether we will have a good, positive outlook on life today, or dwell on the negatives. We may be asking ourselves – Who will I date, and possibly marry? Where will I work? Will I go to college, or not? Will I choose to undermine and criticize leadership or be a team player who gets involved, supports, and prays for leaders? Will I choose to please God or please my “friends” who see no problem with violating one (or many) of His principles? The list goes on and on, and even includes things like… “Will I chose the Happy Meal?…Or the Chicken Nuggets?” OK, just a little humor to see if you’re still with me…Obviously some choices are bigger than others! Some decisions have more consequences or more potential rewards than others as well.
EVERY decision affects the direction of our life, and EVERY decision is important! The verses above tell us that basically we are going to “EAT” the fruit of our “doings” or our “own way.” And by the time we are eating that fruit, it does not matter if we like the fruit or not that we have put in front of ourselves. There will come a time when we absolutely must eat it. It’s just like that statement, “You made your bed, now you have to sleep in it.” The Bible is saying: “You’ve planted a certain kind of fruit. You cultivated it, then you harvested it. Now you must eat it. There’s no way around it at this point.” So depending on if you have put good fruit (good choices), or bad fruit (bad choices) in front of you,…”according to our ways” (or choices), we will either get to eat an awesome meal, a horrible meal, or something in between, all because of life’s decisions.
An example would be of a teenager who says, “I can’t wait to get my driver’s license to drive so I’ll just sneak off with some of my friends and drive – I’m sixteen,…I know what I’m doing. But then when he does this one night, he gets into a car accident and one of his best friends is killed. Someone in the other car is paralyzed. There’s no insurance on the car. Now he has to “eat” the fruit of this one bad decision. He has to eat remorse, regret, depression, court, jail time, embarrassment, huge financial burdens with no hope of getting a good job due to no driver’s license for many years. On the other hand, if he had just waited to drive (even if it’s until age 18-20) and followed wise counsel from his parents, he could have avoided all the negatives and ended up eating all the delicious fruit of his good decisions instead, all the while keeping his good reputation intact. He could get a good job at an early age and get a jump-start on life with no unnecessary emotional regrets and financial baggage!
So, how can we know that we are making a right choice?
For starters we need to make sure we are making a biblical choice; one that does not directly violate Scripture. For example, I really don’t think there is any need to pray about taking a job as a beer truck driver or a bartender based on 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and Proverbs 23:31.
We also need to bathe our decisions in prayer! We hear Proverbs 3:5-6 quoted over and over at graduations, and I’m not saying I’m tired of hearing that whatsoever! It is totally appropriate, and I hope that tradition never stops! It says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” But, do we really acknowledge Him in all our ways? Let’s be honest about how many multiple decisions we make each day and never stop to pray and ask God for any guidance whatsoever. Again, we do not need to pray about the decisions that would be obvious violations of Scriptures, and we may not need to pray about the choice of chicken nuggets versus the Happy Meal! (although it couldn’t hurt – Ha!) But, we should definitely be “acknowledging Him” a lot more often than we do. Pray before any big decisions. Ask God to show you in His Word or bring it to your mind if there are any violations of Scripture. Then, pray in a secluded place where there are little or no distractions. I personally like to take walks with God on a quiet street or along Lake Michigan where I live. Pastor Jeff Fugate once gave me this advice. He said, “Don’t be afraid to do what God has given you peace about during your prayer time, alone with Him.” In other words, you may have some fear when you go to actually do what God has put on your heart, but if he gave you peace about it during your prayer time, go ahead with it in spite of your fears. On the other hand, if you have a real uneasiness in your heart during your prayer time, DO NOT go forward, but continue to wait on the Lord and seek His will.
Also, regarding decision making, I know you’ve probably already heard this dozens of times, but it’s some of the best advice on Earth based on Proverbs 11:14 and Proverbs 24:6 (“in a multitude of counselors there is safety”). Get counsel from saved people who are on fire for God! This should include your pastor and your parents. Listen intently to what they have to offer! If their advice lines up with Scripture and you have peace in your heart during your prayer and Bible time with God, then I believe it’s like a three-legged stool that can hold the weight. #1. Scriptural #2. Godly counsel #3. Peace with God in prayer. If anyone gives advice that is against Scripture you do not have to follow it, but if your parents are saved and on fire for God and your pastor is as well, then this is extremely unlikely to happen. I urge you to stay in that “safety net” of a multitude of counselors! I have seen so many young people destroyed simply because they never asked for counsel, or they didn’t listen to the counsel that they were given.
In closing, I preached a message once based on Proverbs 1:31 entitled “You Will Eat Your Fruit!” In that message, I illustrated how each one of us someday will have no choice whatsoever, but to “EAT” from the decisions that we are making right now. If you want to “eat good” as they say, then please heed the advice in this article! If you want to “eat nasty fruit or garbage,” then you will disregard what I have written. I did not come up with any of this on my own. It was taught to me by my “multitude of counselors.” I am 44 now, but much of what I have given you here I learned as a teenager. By God’s grace I have a wonderful wife who absolutely loves the Lord (and me too! Woo Hoo!) I have a happy family with 3 beautiful children who also know and love the Lord. I am so very, very blessed and have very few regrets! Your parents, your preacher and I want this same life for you!
The “SUPER-BLESSED” life!
Below you will also find more guidelines for making decisions. I found them in an old notebook that I took notes in as a teenager. I do not know who the originator was, but I hope this helps you as well: When Making Decisions:
1. Is it biblical?
2. Does it honor the Lord?
3. Would Jesus choose it?
4. Is it a stumbling block or a stepping stone? (to others)
5. Is it doubtful? (When in doubt – don’t do it)
6. Is it right or is it wrong?
7. Will it help my growth or hinder it?
Biblical Baptist Church
Beach Park, IL