Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 17 Number 10 October 2015
Page 15

Christians, Scrutinize Your Choices

Torrey Clark

Torrey Clark“Choice,” a noun, an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities. We all must make choices. Our choices reflect our values – those things that we hold most dear and form the most central part of our identities. A Christian’s choices, therefore, should reflect Christian values. Christian values are determined by on what Christ places value. Christians must learn to make choices that reflect the choices that Christ would make Himself if He were in our position. Paul described this lifestyle of making choices consistent with Christ the following way. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:8-11).

In essence, Paul was saying, “choose light.” In other words, choose the way of the Spirit. Choose the way of Christ. We are to be “finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” Consider the survey of translations of this statement:

The point is clear. Christians are to live their lives in such a way that carefully discerns what course of attitude, speech and action reflects the Spirit of Christ. At this point, many of us get confused and discouraged. Many situations arise in which the course is not always clear. Sometimes we can be guilty of making choices that are misguided and even abusive because we convince ourselves that our selfish motives for our choices are actually one in the same with the will of God, although, when pressed, we cannot find any Christ-centered justification for our actions.

So what are we to do? Is there a good way to determine whether an attitude, a form of speech or an action is pleasing to the Lord? Admittedly, many situations are difficult and there may be multiple courses of action that would be justified. The point of this article is not to make us constantly doubt ourselves, but rather to give a framework that will help us to make Spirit-led, Christ-honoring and light-reflecting choices.

I submit to you that we have a very clear picture of what a Spirit-filled life looks like in the description of the “fruit of the Spirit.” “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Christians who are filled with and led by the Spirit bear this fruit of the Spirit. Therefore, I believe these descriptions of the fruit of a Spirit-filled person give us an inspired framework with which to evaluate our choices.

Love

Is this decision loving? Does it take into account the highest benefit or good of others? Does it reflect the love of Christ? Does it promote love? Would an unbiased observer interpret this decision as loving?

Joy

Does this decision promote Christian joy in myself and others? Does this decision cause my Christian joy to be magnified? Will this decision have a negative impact on my Christian joy or that of others?

Peace

Does this decision promote peace? Does it promote inner peace and harmony? Does it promote peace and harmony among brethren? Would an unbiased observer say my actions promote peace?

Longsuffering

Does my decision reflect patience and longsuffering, even in the midst of difficulty and agitation? Does it give others the benefit of the doubt? Does my decision take into account how longsuffering God has been with me? Would an unbiased observer interpret my decision as being longsuffering?

Kindness and Goodness

Is this decision made out of kindness and affection for others? Does it seek to bring blessing and benefit to others? Even if it is an unpopular decision with others, is it done in the spirit of kindness?

Faithfulness

Does my decision reflect my trust in God? Does my choice promote my own trustworthiness of character? Will this decision cause others to have more or less trust in me?

Gentleness

Are my words and decisions characterized by harshness? Is my decision considerate to others? Is this decision motivated by a self-asserting spirit? Would an unbiased observer interpret my actions as gentle?

Self-Control

Is my decision reflective of a self-seeking spirit? Is my decision a result of lack of personal restraint? Is my decision an attempt to bind my preferences and opinions on others?

Sometimes decisions must be made where we have to choose greater of two goods. Sometimes there are competing good reasons for choosing different courses of action. In these instances, we should pray for the wisdom of God (James 1:5). However, most decisions are clear when we apply the “Spirit-filled” test to them.

The alternative to choosing light is choosing darkness. The alternative to being led by the Spirit is being led by the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17). The way of the flesh looks like this: “Now the deeds of flesh are evident…immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21 NASU).

Those who make their choices that reflect fleshly attitudes, words and actions are excluded from the kingdom. “I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things [things of the flesh] will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21). Which way will you choose?

May God help us to choose light, to choose the way of the Spirit and to choose the way of Christ. May God help us to turn away from every evil thing and every way characterized by the flesh.


Deacons Are Needed

Mark Tonkery

Mark TonkeryThe best definition I have ever heard to describe a deacon is that he is a man chosen to serve or do a job related to the congregation that is too important to be left up to chance. This seems to be what is taking place in Acts 6:1-6 in the choosing of “the seven” to help feed the widows. Although in this passage what we might call the “office of deacon” is not specifically mentioned, it does set an example of what deacons are expected to do, and that is to serve the needs of the congregation.

Today, deacons are still needed to help our elders and the congregation. Just as the feeding of widows could not be left up to chance, today there are many jobs within the congregation that are too important to be left up to chance or to be neglected.

Think about some of the jobs that must take place for a congregation to scripturally function and properly grow as God intended. Worshipping God is one of the commands of Scripture (John 4:24). We are to come together on the first day of the week to worship (Acts 20:7; Hebrews 10:25). Worship must be done in an orderly way (1 Corinthians 14:40). Someone must see to it that the men of the congregation will serve in the service and to help get things organized. Worship does not just happen; there must be some preparations made. Should we leave this job up to chance?

Regarding finances, the church is commanded on the first day of the week to take up a collection (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Once the money is collected, who is going to see that it is properly taken care of and managed? Could you imagine if we left this job up to chance?

Respecting benevolence, in Acts 6:1-6 we see the church was neglecting the benevolence of some of the widows, which was solved by the choosing of the seven men to take responsibility to address that need. There are still benevolence needs today. Jesus even taught in Matthew 25:31-46 that we will be held accountable for what we do or do not do to help those in need. What if we left this job up to chance?

Likewise pertaining to building and grounds, if we are blessed with a wonderful place to meet for worship and Bible study, that, too, requires some attention. The building and grounds must be taken care of; if not the building will deteriorate. We must be good stewards of what God has blessed us with. The repairs and upkeep to the church building and grounds cannot be left up to chance, either.

These are just some of the jobs that need a deacon’s attention in the congregation and cannot be left up to chance. We could also talk about how essential it is to have a deacon to see that the Bible school classes, missions, technology and other areas of church life are taken care of and not left up to chance.

Deacons are needed. No one person can see that all these jobs are taken care of properly. The apostles even remind in Act 6:2, “…It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.” The work of the church is a group effort. The preacher has his responsibilities; the elders have theirs, and the deacons are needed to help to serve and see that the most important jobs are not left up to chance or neglected.


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