Here’s a Valentine’s gift you can enjoy all year—how to use love to make better decisions, especially in gray areas.
When my children were small, rumors circulated about the hidden dangers behind some benign-looking toys, video games, and children’s TV programs. Confusing messages still bombard us today. How do we make good decisions when experts can’t even agree?
Do you want to know a secret? What’s good for me may not be good for you. While some choices are black and white, others are gray. Some answers vary with individuals.
I’ve found a simple biblical principle that helps me make better decisions. It’s based on the following Scripture: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good,” (Romans 12:9 NIV). Let me explain how this helps us evaluate toys, people, activities, and other gray areas.
The Greek language uses different words to convey the nuances of meanings. The word used in this verse for evil does not mean evil in essence, but detrimental in effect. In other words, anything that is hurtful or harmful. If something sabotages my health, important relationships, faith, hope, and love, then for me it is evil. Let’s apply this to life.
Are credit cards evil? That depends. How do they affect you? Credit cards benefit some by tracking spending. They tempt others to spend money they don’t have.
Years ago, Larry and I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course. It recommended cutting up all credit cards. Larry and I discussed it. We decided to keep one card each.
I wrestled over cutting up the cards to a couple of stores. We had earned a preferred customer status that included many perks. But, I realized those benefits cost me. Sometimes, I bought items because I didn’t want to miss a deal not because I needed them. For us, one credit card is helpful. Many are not.
What about video games? Consider the effect playing games has on the user and the rest of the family. Do some games bring out aggression that is released on other family members? Is the player able to limit playing time so important areas don’t suffer? Is it a fun way to connect with friends with no unpleasant aftermath?
How does this type of movie, book, or TV show affect my mind, emotions, morals, and faith?
Consider the effect of other people. Are my children more rebellious or better behaved after spending time with their friends? How does this person affect my values, beliefs, and contentment? Do I leave encouraged or discouraged?
Food and Exercise
Our bodies have different needs. I don’t do well with grains and my knees don’t do well with pounding. How does this food or activity affect me? Does this food or beverage tempt me to eat or drink when I am not hungry or thirsty?
The word for hate in the original language includes the idea of distance, separation, or cessation. In other words: Sincere love separates from harmful influences and stops destructive behavior. Discern what’s harmful for you and your family and stop it.
Are you surprised that wisdom is related to love? Love pursues the best. It abhors hurting people. It doesn’t play on the edge of harm hoping not to cross the line. It protects.
Sincere love is glued to good—that which is morally honorable, pleasing to God, good in essence, and beneficial in effect. God and His word are all of this (Ps. 118:1; 119:39, Mark 10:18). Clinging to them makes us happy and wise.
Question: How can love help you with a decision you’re facing?
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Debbie W. Wilson
For helpful tips on health and nutrition, I recommend my friend Ann Musico’s blog. Find it here.
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