Right or Wise?

I was 18 years old and for some reason, I was obsessed with climbing, buildings, trees, I don’t know what else that you climb, but if I could I would have. I was at the height of my pubescent risk-taking. One afternoon myself and another friend decided to get one of our other friends to jump off the top of a 5 metre high stump. Now, this friend was 2 metres tall so we figured it probably wasn’t a big deal for him to jump from 5 metres. It took us a while but eventually, he jumped out of the tree.

Now I know what you are thinking, was he alright? The answer is yes, he was fine. And yes, teenage boys aren’t the smartest, but I tell this story to ask you another question.

Was it wrong for my friend to jump off the 5 metre high stump? No, it wasn’t breaking God’s law or the law of the land.

For me, I have been thinking about decision making, and how we make our decisions. Often what we do is create for ourselves a right or wrong dichotomy. It is either right or it is wrong. Yet I believe for us to make better decisions we must give ourselves more options. We must move away from things being right or wrong, instead, we must add an extra dimension to our decision making.

I think this extra dimension comes around helping us not only choosing the right option, but also the wise option. Let me explain how this works. Imagine you are in a relationship, you and your boyfriend/girlfriend are committed to saving yourself for marriage, and want to be above reproach in your behaviour. You live with a couple of friends and you also have a spare bedroom.

One night your partner has stayed late and doesn’t want to have to drive home. Is it wrong for them to stay the night? You can put them up in the spare room. So is it wrong? How would you prove that to me? I don’t think you could find anything in your Bible or logically that could prove the moral wrongness of the decision for your partner to stay in the spare room while you slept in your room. On paper, it looks harmless. Let me ask a better question, is it wise?

This question forces us to think beyond moral rightness and wrongness. It asks us, would it be wise to do this if we want to be above reproach? Is it wise to have been up so late, and then be seeing each other going to bed, knowing they are just down the hallway? Is it wise, in the sense that this could lead to a compromise down the road?

When we add this question, we get a whole new perspective to our decision. We can get an answer that says it’s morally right, but unwise. So we choose a different, more wise action that leads us to a morally right and wise decision. This decision will lead to even greater fruit.

For the above example, I believe the “morally right” but unwise decision is to let the other stay in the spare room. While the morally right and wise decision is to either drive them home, or if this is a long distance situation to arrange other accommodation. Others will respect the decision and the commitment to honour your vision for your relationship. As well as stopping you from taking the slippery road of compromise.

I hope you can already see the extra value of asking this extra question, I hope you can see the extra dimension it brings to our decisions that we make.

It will help you to not just make morally right decisions, but morally right and wise decisions. Which I believe we can see are the best decisions. Ephesians 5:15 encourages us to make this our desire. It says “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.” This is something we are encouraged to aim for.

My encouragement to you is to be someone who is known for making great decisions, and I genuinely believe by asking yourself the second question of, “Is this wise?” will lead to that being your reputation.

I also believe this will help you grow as you think bigger picture, think long term and think about how your decisions are impacting others around you.

May you be people who are not just doing the right thing, but doing the right thing wisely.

Keep growing.

Ben Dainton.

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