Whether we like it or not, making decisions is an integral part of our daily lives. Regardless of our position, family background, education, or talents, we all must make choices that will affect not only our lives, but also the lives of others.
According to the Bible, the most important decisions are spiritual in nature. God not only created us in His image, but He also endowed us with the ability to distinguish between right and wrong and the freedom to obey or disobey His commandments. Because we possess free will, we constantly make decisions that will affect our ultimate status before God.
First, we must decide whether or not to accept God's claim on our lives and His verdict on our fallen nature.
When we repent of our sins and accept Christ as our Savior, we receive God's forgiveness and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Then, as God's children, we are exhorted to live our lives in a Christlike manner and to completely yield ourselves to God's will and purpose. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to do so. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2).
Chapters 12 through 15 of the Book of Romans present us with guidelines for applying Christian principles in our daily lives and in our relationships with Christians and non-Christians. Since God will never force His desires upon us, we must make the necessary personal sacrifices to live our lives in accordance with His plan. Our willingness to set aside our own desires and seek to fulfill God's desires for us will directly affect our spiritual growth and development.
To live in a Christlike manner within the Christian community, we must recognize that no two individuals are alike. Each person comes from a different background, has had a variety of experiences, and is uniquely gifted by God. Just as the human body has many members and each has its own function, the Christian community is made up of many members who possess diverse abilities and callings (Romans 12:4-5). We are responsible for performing our God-given functions to the best of our ability so that the entire Body will be edified.
We should not use our degree of spiritual growth and maturity as a yardstick to measure or judge the spirituality of other Christians.
Romans 12:10 reminds us, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." Rather than criticizing and finding fault with our fellow Christians, we should be ready at all times to welcome and love them as members of the body of Christ, and let God be the final judge of their (and our) Christian growth and development. "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. . . . Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God" (Romans 14:19; 15:7).
Another important area of Christian responsibility and decision-making is found in Romans 12 and 13 concerning our relationship with individual non-Christians and with non-Christian organizations and governments. Displaying proper Christian conduct in our daily affairs can play an important role in furthering the spread of the gospel by the body of Christ. Not only must we manifest love toward Jesus and desire to do His will, we must also show respect and a Christlike love toward everyone. "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:17-18).
In His sermon on the Mount of Olives, Jesus referred to His followers as the "light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). As light is used to dispel darkness and brighten its surroundings, manifesting Christ's love will brighten the world around us and attract others to Christ. "‘Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven'" (v. 16).
Romans 13:1 exhorts us to submit to the power and authority of human government and government institutions.
"There is no authority except that which God has established." Human government was established by God to repress crime and encourage righteousness. Those who manifest positions of authority here on earth do so through God's delegation. We as Christians are commanded to respect and submit to government and obey all laws, "not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience" (Romans 13:5).
We are compelled to render to all governing authorities what they demand as long as our doing so does not go against our basic Christian conduct. If our obedience to the powers of government would be in direct violation of our service and obedience to God, we must realize that our primary allegiance is to serve God and put His will above all else. Jesus himself said, "‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's'" (Matthew 22:21). Therefore, we must be willing to suffer hardships and persecution for our faith at the hands of non-Christians and non-Christian governments when they interfere with our service to God. As Jesus said, "‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it'" (Mark 8:34-35).
As we moment by moment make the decision to follow and obey Christ, the "God of hope" can fill us with His joy and peace, so that we will "overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).
1 All Scripture verses are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
© by Howard W. Stevens