Back in 2011 I made a string of really bad decisions. I was driving “too fast for conditions”, totaled my car, dyed my hair and bought a new car that ended up being a money pit.
It was by God’s grace that I ran that Honda into a tree instead of going off a 30+ foot cliff, and that the only injury was my passenger’s concussion. The accident could of been a lot worse, so I’m counting my blessings.
What was I thinking with my hair? Yeah, I wasn’t thinking. I was still in a Jersey Shore/Eminem phase of my life.
And going from a Honda Civic to a Ford Mustang, I told people that after the accident I realized how life is short and that I cared more about “smiles per gallon” than I did “miles per gallon”. The mustang delivered on that point but as far as the money is concerned, I’m still paying for that car today and I sold it over a year ago.
I think it’s safe to say that we have all made a bad decision before, some worse than others of course. Some people drive their bad decision, some people date or marry a bad decision
But it seemed like a good idea at the time right? This blog post is about how to make really bad decisions. If you’re smart, you’ll do the opposite and make good, or at least better decisions.
To illustrate this point using scripture, lets take a look at the book of Joshua.
After the Nation of Israel wandered through the wilderness for 40 years, their leader Joshua finally leads them into the promise land. God gave them specific instructions for them to conquer their new territory. Basically they were to defeat and destroy all of the enemies that were there with God’s help.
The Nation of Israel was on a such a roll of victory that some of the surrounding areas started coming up with a game plan to avoid the similar destruction the other areas had experienced.
Multiple countries formed a conglomerate to fight the nation of Israel. However, the people of Gibeon turned to deception instead of joining the conglomerate to keep themselves safe.
The Gibeonites sent ambassadors to Joshua pretending to be from distant land. They loaded their donkeys with weathered saddlebags, old and patched wineskins, wore patched sandals, worn out clothes, and had dry and moldy bread with them.
The Gibeonites tricked the Nation of Israel into thinking that they were from a distant land so that the Israelites wouldn’t destroy them. Their tricked worked because Joshua signed a peace treaty with them. Three days after signing the peace treaty, the Israelites learned that they actually lived close by. (Joshua 9:1-16)
Talk about Epic Fail. They made a really bad decision because they didn’t follow the proper procedure for making good decisions.
How to Make Really Bad Decisions
- Allow flattery to sway you
Have you ever made a purchase because of a smooth talking salesman? Or made a deal that you wish you could take back? I know I have.
Sometimes those purchases lead to buyer’s remorse, for example like my Mustang purchase. The problem was that I got emotionally attached. The used car salesman made it seem like a great car, but after I drove it off the lot to get an oil change, I soon realized how bad it was previously taken care of. More problems ensued the longer I owned it.
Many people start dating someone because they allowed that certain someone to ‘woo’ them in with flattery. I’m guilty as charged.
This happens when we put too much of our heart and not enough of our mind into the decision making process. Following your heart which is wicked can lead you in the wrong direction. Being overly emotionally attached to things, or people, leads to bad judgement calls and bad decisions.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is to detach yourself emotionally from the situation so that you can rationally think through the decision.
How did the Nation of Israel allow flattery to sway them?
Joshua demanded. “Where do you come from?” They answered, “Your servants have come from a very distant country. We have heard of the might of the Lord your God and of all he did in Egypt. Joshua 9:8b-9
What the Gibeonites said was true about what God was doing, however their motive was self-preservation, not to glorify God. The Gibeonites basically told Joshua what he wanted to hear.
If we only follow our hearts and get caught up emotionally in things, we will usually make some pretty bad decisions. We have to be careful, because if we’re not, people can take advantage of that.
What’s another way to make a really bad decision?
- Don’t Pray About It
When I look back at some of my really bad decisions, most if not all, I did not pray about. I left God out of the equation. The decision just seemed right or felt right at the time, so I went with my gut. I got wrapped up emotionally and did not consult with the Lord.
Failing to pray about a decision neglects using the greatest resource available, God’s wisdom and the discernment of the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us if you are a believer.
Did the Israelites mess this one up too?
The Israelites replied to these Hivites (Gibeonites), “How do we know you don’t live nearby? For if you do, we cannot make a treaty with you.”… So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord. Joshua 9:7,14 NIV
Even though the discernment alarm went off and the story seemed fishy to them, they did not consult with the Lord, and ended up making a bad decision. They went with human reasoning alone and went with what their eyes told them.
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth – John 16:13a NIV
The Holy Spirit guides us to truth.
The key is to pray with an open Bible because God speaks through his word. If you come up with something that doesn’t line up with the Bible then it wasn’t God speaking to you.
God wants us to make good decision and his wisdom is there to help us, all we have to do is ask him for it.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you – James 1:5 NLT
A third way to making a bad decision?
- Rush Into It Without Researching
I didn’t do research on the specific car I bought. It looked good but it gave me a ton of problems down the road.
I’ve rushed into relationships before without having done “research” and getting to know the other person well enough. Dealing with all of the consequences related to that has been difficult to say the least.
Some stocks I’ve purchased seemed like a good buy at the time but now some have tanked because I didn’t do research on them like I should have.
The Israelites didn’t do research until after they had already made a decision!
Three days after making the treaty, they learned that these people actually lived nearby! The Israelites set out at once to investigate and reached their towns in three days. – Joshua 9:16-17a NLT
The time to do the research is before, not after the decision.
What a shame—yes, how stupid!—to decide before knowing the facts! – Proverbs 18:13 TLB
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Luke 14:28 NLT
6 Questions to ask before making a decision
- Does it line up with God’s Word?
- Have I prayed earnestly about it?
- Do I feel pressured?
- Does this set off my discernment alarm?
- Will this affect someone in a negative way?
- Can I live with the consequences?
Asking these questions before you make a decision should help you make good, or better decisions.
The Challenge is to not allow flattery to sway you or get wrapped up emotionally, pray about your decision, and do the necessary research before, not after making a decision.
This blog post was made possible by attending Foothills Community Church in Seneca, SC on 3/26/17 – To watch the sermon related to this blog post go to foothillscc.org watch/listen page, look up “Decision Making Fails” in the “Epic Fails of The Bible” Series.