3 Questions to Ask Before You Act

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. (1 Corinthians 10:23-24 ESV)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV)

  1. Will this help the other person? Will what you are about to do satisfy a need (not necessarily a want) of the person for whom you plan to do it? Meeting every “want” someone has ultimately ends up hurting, not helping. Helping requires discernment. Sometimes people around you view wants as needs. Your “no’s” may be as critical as your “yeses.”
  2. Will the other person be better because of what I am about to do? To build up literally means to “build a house.” Will what you are doing add to the other person? This requires having a vision for the other person that sees them not only as they are but as who they can be. In parenting, Smalley and Trent call this “picturing a special future.” If you’re a leader at work, you see your staff member as a supervisor, shift leader, or vice-president. If you’re a teacher, you see your student walking across the stage and graduating one day.
  3. Will this glorify God? A simple non-theological way to approach this question is: will God’s reputation be enhanced because of what you are about to do or say? Will your actions make his name greater? When all is said and done, will people talk more about you or about God?

Who’s Your Master?

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16 ESV)

Every day we present ourselves—either to God or to Satan, either to the Spirit or to our flesh, either to the ministry of the Church or the ways of the world.

Obedience results in slavery.

Maybe you struggle with this statement. Let me ask you a question. How many of you thought about how to put on your shoes this morning? How many of you actually thought about the way you brush your teeth? You didn’t. You’ve done it for years. It is, as we say, “second nature.”

So what happens? Before you come to know Christ, you have habits—bad habits—that you already practiced. In some cases, God immediately frees people from those habits. For others, freedom is a process. Healing doesn’t take place over night. That old habit still wants to be your master. You still find yourself waking up with a bad attitude. You lose your temper with small things. You still think lustful thoughts. “Why is this happening?” you may think. “What is going on inside me? I thought God changed my life. I gave my heart to Christ, yet I still struggle.”

The question is, “To whom or what do you present yourself.”To present is to hand oneself over, to surrender oneself. If slavery is not optional, if you are going to be slaves of the one you obey, the problem comes when what you obey is the sinful desires that dominated your life before you came to Christ. Did you present yourself to God or to your old habits today? Did you offer your body to God for His service or did you give Satan an opportunity to establish a stronghold in your life?

Whoever you obey becomes your master.

A Good Night’s Sleep

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.  Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV)

Joseph went to sleep with a plan: a quiet divorce. Mary was out of her mind to blame her pregnancy on God. He loved her but couldn’t buy her story. Then God showed up in a dream. Mary was pregnant and God had done it. It was no ordinary baby. Jesus would be his name. Joseph, as the dad, normally had the right and privilege of naming his child, especially a firstborn son. But this wasn’t Joseph’s boy. God was Jesus’ Father, Joseph an earthly surrogate! Joseph was an integral part in Isaiah’s prophecy: God was visiting earth through the birth of a baby boy called Immanuel.

Joseph woke up and did what God told him to do. He obeyed immediately by marrying Mary. He obeyed later by naming their boy Jesus.

What is God asking (no telling) you to do today? Don’t hesitate. Obey him.