Options

With things like end of year, New Year, autumn and spring sale coupons constantly filling our mail boxes and deceptive adverts looming through our television screens, it is hard to ignore the fact that we now live in the age and a world where we are never deprived of options. Oh by the way, Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays have also joined the league of commercial strategies that retailers use to get us to dip our hands into our pockets more than we ever bargained for. What all of these present to us are options. This concept of options has seeped into our psyche so much so that we believe that there are alternative options for everything. Whilst having options can be a good thing but if not careful, we will dilute our mindsets and de-sensitive ourselves to things we should have a dogged and unshakable attitude towards.

The plethora of options has desecrated our traditional family system, given us alternative ways of living our faith, raising children, and in relationships. Is having an alternative option a bad thing? Not necessarily and it depends on what it is. However if not managed carefully, we will miss out on God’s best for us. In the bid to keep all options open, some pursue 2-3 or more girlfriends or boyfriends at the same time, as after all you never know which one will be the one. Some hop from one job to another, hop from one marriage to another, and some are going from one business to another within months. Some even change their ministry identity as frequently as they change their clothes. How about the movement from one church to another within a short space of time? After all we have so many options depending on what we need at a particular time and which one promises more signs and wonders in their services.

A regular 21st century man or woman like myself is faced with the challenge of deciding which option is best for their career, marriage, family, ministry, lifestyle and the list goes on and on. And atop this challenge lies the issue of those people who would try to force the options you haven’t asked for upon you. People nowadays including children are almost forced to accept that there are options when it comes to their sexual orientation and marriage. Gone are the days therefore when marriage was accepted as purely a binding relationship between a man and a woman and heterosexuality is now considered as archaic and linked to intolerant behaviour or at best, rigid but we won’t go there just yet. We have options when it comes to which phones or providers we use; iPhones, Samsung, HP, type of food; organic or GM foods etc. The list is alarmingly endless!

And so what is my intention of writing this? I haven’t written it to add to your ever-increasing reading list but to make your life simpler and more effective in 2015. As a lover of books and knowledge, I am sometimes inundated with the amount of information there is to take in plus the other things I have on my to-do list. Just because you have options does not mean that they are all good and therefore you have to scrutinise every option presented to you. Some even come dressed very fancily and you almost are swayed by the appearance but I like the age-old saying that all that glitters is not gold. Not every opportunity has to be taken, not every sale item is needed, that fancy, big church may not be where God is calling you to be at this point in time, not every girl or guy who crosses your path is a potential spouse and the list goes on and on.

I almost hear someone wondering, ‘but how do I know which option is right for me?’ I am glad you asked. I don’t necessarily know because each person’s circumstance is different and unique. However the Bible is replete with advice and guidance in verses I have quoted below. These should be anyone’s starting point and reference if they are asking this question.

  • Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Note that as there are good options, there are also bad ones. The enemy of our souls presents negative options sometimes to get us to stumble and miss the mark but God never leaves us without a good option and so choose the right way. It may be unpopular but it leads to life rather than death
  • Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but the purpose of the Lord will stand.” Solomon, the writer of the book of Proverbs knew that we often have so many plans and permit me to call these options but he states that only the plans of the Lord will stand. This means that only God’s plan or option has the ability to endure and therefore allow the word of God to scrutinise your plans and be willing to discard those that fail against the mind and standards of God for your life.
  • 1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Don’t judge a book by its cover. Just because it looks good does not mean that it is good for you or your family, even if everyone is doing it.
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” There are some people who believe that they know everything and so they make important decisions based on what they feel or on a superficial level. If you are such a person, pause and consider if your decisions are really the best for you and those around you. Learn to lean not on your own understanding. Even when you think you may know what to do, still commit it into God’s hands. There are things that God has delivered me from at the last minute that have saved me money, time and pain. And although they looked okay initially, if I had not committed them to God, I may have regretted doing them or taking up those options later.
  • Finally, Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” When trying to decide which option is good for you, consider Paul’s litmus test above and ask yourself these questions. Is it pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise? Or will it cause you sleepless nights, leave you in debt, fragment your family etc.? I believe 2015 will be a great year but rather than piling up the options, we are going to need to do more with what we already have including being grateful for them. Michael Hyatt puts it this way “we will never have more of what we truly desire until we become fully thankful for what we have.”