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Matthew 5:37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Making final decisions is very difficult for many people to do. Whether it be a decision of whether or not to buy a home or something as simple as which entrée to order at the local restaurant, it seems to be a very difficult thing for many people. The great pioneer of marketing, John Wanamaker, is quoted to have said “Nothing comes merely by thinking about it”.
In the scripture above, the Lord gives some great advise that will help us to make sure that our answers are definite and final. It is more than just advise, it is actually given as a directive, so it does us well to learn how to do that.
As I mentioned earlier, this is something that is very difficult for many people to do; to give a simple and final “Yes” or “No” answer. The Lord points out that anything other than this comes from evil. The word for “evil” in this scripture is the Greek word poneros. It occurs 76 times in the Bible and means such things as dereliction, guilt, and mischief.
So, the Lord very pointedly is showing us that if we have a tendency to not commit to answers or decisions, it could possibly be for any of the following reasons : 1) We are just being lazy and derelict; meaning we just aren’t putting in the mental work to be able to make an informed decision. Often, when someone fits this category, if they do give an answer their answer is usually “No” because they just don’t want to be bothered with it. 2) We are guilty of something, or at least feel guilty about something, and therefore cannot make a sound decision because we feel it may reveal something else about us. 3) We have ulterior motives and do not want to be tied down to any final decision because we are looking for a certain outcome and don’t want to jeopardize the possibility of that outcome, so we avoid making a final decision until a situation more favorable to our desired outcome comes along. Learning to make final decisions is great advise from our Lord because, when people avoid doing this, it either helps to reveal who they really are or it helps the innocent learn to avoid appearing to have ulterior motives, as mentioned above.
Activationist or Passivationist?
In his book The Magic of Thinking Big, Dr. David Schwartz isolates those who make sound decisions and those who don’t into two categories: 1) Activationists and 2) Passivationists. The activationist is the doer; the one who follows through on plans. In short, they take action. The passivationist, as Dr. Schwartz calls them, is the don’ter. This is the person who has a tendency to put things off. The first group only needs one good reason why they can and should do something, and they make the decision to get started even if it’s just in some small way. They also understand that by developing the skill of sound decision making, they will also serve others who are waiting on a decision from them so they can also finish doing their jobs.
The second group tends to discover, just in the nick of time, some reason why they shouldn’t or can’t do something, and thus they cannot make a final decision. The only decision they tend to make is to wait…and wait…and wait (or in Christianity they pray…and pray…and pray) many times until it can no longer be done anyway, and then it’s “Oh well. Maybe next time”.
Of course, it’s wise to gather as much information as you can before making a decision, but we’re talking about those who, even when they have as much pertinent information as can be gathered, are still not able to make sound decisions. It’s been said that if someone has all the information they can get on a subject, and still cannot make a sound decision, they probably also tend to not finish other things they start in life. Into which of these groups do you fit and into which of these groups would you like to fit?
Often, when we hear about leaving the zone of mediocrity in our lives, we think about all the work that is going to be involved in order to do that. So, many people get overwhelmed by this thought and they just give up before they even try.
Deciding and doing is one of the best ways to leave mediocrity! This does not mean that when someone decides and does something that they will do it above the level of mediocrity right away, and I think this is what we tend to believe. But, if they decide and do that thing, and then start trying to improve upon it, they can THEN move it from mediocrity to above mediocrity. Things are seldom done the best way they could be done on the first try. Most things have to be revisited a number of times before they are done well and this is how the act of just deciding and doing will help us to leave mediocrity, either immediately or eventually.
Whether it is immediate or eventual, either one is okay as long as we start putting in the action of deciding and doing. You may be surprised at how many other things in your life will “take care of themselves” by this simple definiteness of action!
A Contract with Yourself
There are many times in life that we make contracts with someone. We do this with banks, jobs, when we get married, etc. I have found that a good statement about some decision you’ve made, or need to make, especially if it involves some sort of risk to do it, is:
“I have decided to _____________________ (fill in blank with your decision), and I know my intentions are true and God-honoring. I will not continue to question it, fear it, allow anxiety to creep in, neither will I passively aggressively try to control the outcomes. The decision has been made! I will simply strive to do the best I can, giving glory to God for the positive outcomes while accepting responsibility for and learning from the negative outcomes. I will also do the best I can to help other people through this new venture or decision, but I will neither fear nor fret over the outcomes. The decision has been made and I am now moving forward with it!”
I have used this statement for a few different things, and it works!! Someone may say, “Well, that statement is bold and risky!” That’s EXACTLY what you and I have to be if we are to do anything we truly feel led to do and we do it with the right intentions, which will produce the right actions, and therefore the right results!
So, if there’s anything that has burned on your heart, but you’ve been putting it off due to fear of failure or criticism, today is the day to decide and do! You may be surprised at how many other smaller decisions become easier to make through this simple action!
“Lord, I accept the fact that I have allowed indecision to rule large parts of my life and because of this many things in my life have gone unfulfilled. I ask You not only to forgive me for my lack of understanding, but to give me the holy boldness and courage it takes to begin to decide and do. I want all my desires and decisions to honor You so that my intentions will be pure and my actions correct. I ask You to guide me through this process and make me a new creation through it, all to Your glory! Amen!”