How Long Will You Waiver?
Some people can’t seem to make up their mind. Some people seem to make up their minds before thinking. We like to see decisiveness, but it should demonstrate careful and thoughtful purpose. A dictionary’s definition of decisiveness is, “Able to decide quickly and effectively”. One who is decisive must also have the foundation of confidence. This leads to regulative and proper actions. Decisiveness built on nothing but impulse is dangerous and shaky.
Want to hear someone decisive? Listen to William Lloyd Garrison, an early advocate of abolition: he lived 1805-1879. In 1829 he gave a speech in Park Street Church in Boston, and became famous for his stand on abolishing slavery in America. Two years later he wrote in the Liberator. “I am in earnest, I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, I will be heard.” This is decisiveness.
For the Biblical believer and follower of God, there is another distinctive relative to this character quality, and that is obedience. We are to act on God’s will and way. To obey Him leads to decisive action. John Ortberg has recently written a book with this wonderful title: IF YOU WANT TO WALK ON WATER, YOU HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE BOAT. This requires obedient decisiveness.
The Bible abounds with great illustrations of this characteristic. Isaiah said, “Because the Sovereign
Lord helps me, … therefore I have set my face like flint.” Isa. 50:7. Paul said in Acts 21:12, “I must go to Jerusalem.” Jesus said, “I must be about my Father’s business.” Lk 2:49. In Matthew 16:21, Jesus explained to His disciples “that He must go to Jerusalem.” In the same chapter, v.24, He said, “if anyone will come after Me, he must deny himself….”. Here we have genuine decisiveness required and practiced.
The plea of Scripture is that we must be decisive, particularly about those things that matter! One of the dramatic moments in Old Testament history is found in I Kings 18. In this challenging episode that reveals the defeat of Idolotry, Elijah confronts the false prophets of Baal. As he prepares for this face-off, he turns to the people and asks this disturbing question — “How long will you waver between two opinions. If the Lord is God, follow Him, but if Baal is God, follow him.” And the observation that follows this question is even more disturbing, for “the people said nothing.”
So here on a famous mountain, Carmel, 1600 feet above the Mediterranean, the people gather for a momentous conflict. On the one side, the king and people and 450 prophets of the son-god — on the other a lonely forlorn prophet. Perhaps he heard the soft stirring of 10,000 angels wings or caught a glimpse of heavenly fire as it tipped the shining swords of this awesome array, sent to support a man who was calling for decisiveness. He points out the necessity of decision. He notes that we can’t straddle the line, or stumble from one position to another. If He is God, then follow Him.
An astonishing statement is found in II Kings 17:41. “Even while these people were worshipping the Lord, they were serving their idols…” How can this be? Jesus said, “you cannot serve God and mammon. You cannot serve two masters.” Matt. 6:24. We have a clear choice, and our response is to decide. If the Lord be God, then follow Him.
Where are you today? Saying nothing? Trying to worship the Lord while serving your idols? Or can you today say with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:15). How long will you waiver? The quality of your life, both now and in the life to come, depend on your decision!
- Decisiveness Defined.
- A Historical Example of A Decisive Individual.
- Importance of Obedient Decisiveness for the Biblical Believer.
- Elijah’s Call for Obedient Decisiveness: If the Lord is God, Follow Him.
- Personal Application.
DECISIVENESS – A Four-Minute Sermon
Contributed by Dr. Paul E. Toms
Senior Pastor (Retired), Park Street Church, Boston, MA
February 20, 2001
Paul’s Decisiveness in the Face of Suffering
I. Decisiveness in Following Christ
Decisiveness does not necessarily mean we make a quick decision and storm ahead with it, regardless of the consequences. No, that would be a different quality—recklessness. Rather, a decisive person has the ability to make a well-thought-out decision and stand by it, holding to the truths of that decision. In the Christian life, the most important decision we should stand by is following closely in God’s path. We should resolutely decide in this endeavor to stay the course.
II. Decisiveness in the Face of Suffering
Paul was decisive and did not waver about staying the course. Despite the consequences of persecution and even the threat of death, Paul stayed the course. The promise of suffering only enhanced his decisiveness and exhibited his firm commitment to his decision to follow Jesus Christ at all costs.
In Acts 21, Paul came to Caesarea, bound for Jerusalem. While staying at the house of Philip, one of Philip’s daughters prophesied that Paul would be captured in Jerusalem and handed over to the Gentiles. The crowd in the house quickly urged Paul to avoid Jerusalem. Nevertheless, Paul refused to be persuaded from following what he felt to be the path of God. He stated to the people, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (21.13).
Paul decided to follow Jesus, despite the consequences. He did not waver in his decision; he was not indecisive. His ability to stand firm resulted from ordering his priorities earlier. In the chapter before (20), Paul admitted to the Ephesian elders that he knew he would not see them again and that the Holy Spirit was warning him of the hardships to come. He stood on his decision to continue, however, because of his firm understanding of his relation to Christ: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the Gospel of God’s grace” (20.24).
III. Indecisiveness: A Result of Fear
Oh that we too might be decisive about our commitment to Christ! How often do we fear being decisive for him? We wallow in indecision too often because of our lack of commitment. Why is it that Paul was firm and decisive with his choice to head to Jerusalem, knowing he would die, but we struggle making a simple decision as going to our next door neighbor to share the Gospel? Why do we struggle with decisions of where to serve, minister, and live? Is it because we fear hardship and suffering? Indecisiveness can be a cover up of a much deeper problem: fear. We fear that if we are decisive in our lives for Christ we may suffer.
And suffer we will.
IV. The Lasting Rewards of Decisiveness
II Corinthians 11 reveals only the surface of what Paul suffered—prison, floggings, beatings, shipwrecking, starving, and the list goes on. The problem with decisiveness for Christ is we will suffer. But I suppose the real question is, am I willing to see past the suffering to exalt the only man worth exalting, Jesus Christ? Hebrews assures us that the momentary rewards of this world are not worth it. Speaking of Moses, the author states, “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (11.25-26).
Be decisive for Christ. You will be grateful for all of eternity if you choose Him firmly and resolutely.
DECISIVENESS – A 4-Minute Sermon with Sermon Outline
Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky
Contributed By Michael C. Lyons
Editor of Faith Outreach, Character Council, Cincinnati, OH
February 23, 2001
The Four R’s in Decision-Making
Ever sat at a restaurant with an indecisive friend? Your friend pours over the menu like it’s his or her last meal, then grills the server with “how’s your this?” or “how’s your that?” It seems your friends’ reason for being there is to either memorize the menu or to put off ordering as long as possible. It can drive you nuts!
What causes indecisiveness?
Could it be fear of disappointment? (I just know I’ll wish I had ordered something else). Is it fear of being misperceived? Maybe it’s the fear of rejection? Or “D”, all of the above? Whatever, –indecisiveness can cause missed opportunities, to say nothing of insomnia and ulcers.
How can you overcome indecisiveness? Let’s try.
Let me paint a word picture to help us out. First, can you imagine a Rail Road crossing with its large white X? In the left and right quadrant of the big X is a big, black capital “R”. Of course, the big X with its R’s symbolizes that just ahead, a Rail Road crosses an automobile thoroughfare. Everything about the sign says, “Proceed with caution”.
Now, imagine the same sign, except with an “R” in each of the X’s four quadrants. What would such a sign say in symbols? I want to use the sign as the symbol of THE FOUR R’s OF DECISION-MAKING. Such a sign would symbolize, with its big X, that two choices are on a collision course. The result? –Indecision. This sign-symbol can become a good memory tool for you when you face a choice with the ache of decision throbbing in your head.
What are the Four R’s of Decision-making? They are Rule, Reason, Road, Revelation. Let me explain.
- R # 1 stands for RULE. As you are trying to make up your mind, ask: Is there a natural law involved here? If so, am I resisting it or going with its flow? For the Christian, there is a still deeper question: Is there a Scriptural directive or rule which directs my decision? For instance, the Bible says “You shall not lie” (Exodus 20:16). So, if you are thinking of telling a lie, you know what your decision must be. There’s a rule, –and you know what is right, so do it.
- R # 2 stands for REASON. There’s nothing wrong with using your head, trying to reason things out. Think of your options, and weigh the consequences or rewards of choosing each. And there’s nothing wrong with getting input from others. In fact, there is Scriptural precedence: “In a multitude of counselors (advisors), there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14). Solomon, the wisest, was simply saying, “Two heads are better than one.”
- R # 3 stands for ROAD. Simply put, it is this question: Is the road (or door) open or closed? You can ask God to open the door or make a way if He wants you to proceed, or close the door if not. Revelation 3:8 reveals Christ as One who can “put before you an open door (road) which no man can shut…” God doesn’t usually ask you to jump through a wall, but if He should, it’s your job to jump and God’s job to make a hole.Finally, if you have applied the first three “R’s” and still can’t make a decision, then R # 4 may be for you.
- R # 4 stands for REVELATION. God will reveal to you what you should choose to do or not do. It’s a safe bet that if you’ve done the best you can, you can count on God to do the rest. He is a loving God who not only knows and cares about your future, but also about your present peace of mind. He will, in His own unique way and right time, reveal His will to you. And remember, He may not be early, but He’s never late!
So, when you’ve done all you can to make the right decision, -give it a rest! Don’t surrender to the second-guessing game. When you come to the inevitable fork in the road, you have this promise: “you will hear a voice behind you, saying, “this is the way. Walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21). –That’ll be God, and He’s there to help you make healthy, happy choices.
TITLE: THE FOUR R’S IN DECISION-MAKING
- Indecisiveness in a restaurant.
- What causes indecisiveness?
- Four R’s of decision-making
DECISIVENESS – A Four-Minute Sermon
Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky
Contributed by Rev. Clyde C. Miller
Senior Pastor (Retired), First Christian Assembly of God, Cincinnati, OH
February 18, 2001
This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.