Consider this. You are where you are today because of the choices you made yesterday. Wherever you go tomorrow is influenced by the choices you make today. Your next decision could lead to the life you’ve always wanted or it could become the choice that makes you a liar for life.
For example, I’ve seen young couples make choices that lead to marriage. Every date draws them closer to one another. Every step forward moves them toward, “I do.” But it only takes a few minutes to have a wedding ceremony. It takes a lifetime to build a healthy, happy marriage. I’ve never met a bride who begins their marriage dreaming of divorce. I know no spouse who looks forward to being betrayed. And yet for some, the steps that brought you together somehow transition into the choices that drive you apart.
You’ve experienced something similar. Choices that move you forward and choices that set you back. From moment to moment, how do you choose? If you’re like most people, you make the best decision you can based on the information available at the time. This is called Experience-based Decision Making. It’s founded on a faulty formula. The best decision “I” can make is based on the limits of how I feel and what I know. The information available at the time has a shelf life. It comes with the built-in excuse, “If I knew then what I know now!”
So how can we make better choices? What we need is a lens, a filter, that broadens the scope of our experience and provides better information as we make the choices that influence our lives. That lens is Principle-based Decision Making. For me, the Bible defines and describes the principles that lead to wise choices. It helps me see beyond my personal experience and further than current information can provide. Principle-based decisions create lasting value that experience-based decisions simply cannot.
For example, the Bible teaches the principle of faithfulness. No matter what temptations we face, regardless of current circumstances, if my wife and I filter the words we use and the actions we choose through the lens of faithfulness to one another, our next steps will draw us closer together rather than farther apart.
The Bible teaches the principles of repentance, forgiveness and patience. With my every friendship, the question isn’t if I will disappoint others, but when and how bad will it be? By filtering my choices through the lens of repentance, I can freely confess when I’m wrong. By filtering them through forgiveness, I can forgive others when I’ve been wronged. By filtering them through patience, I can endure with longsuffering and grace of those seasons when my friends and I disagree.
Principle-based Decision Making becomes an algorithm for wise choices. When your experience isn’t enough and information is limited, basing your decisions on eternal principles leads to success in this moment and life in the next.
The apostle Peter once said that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. The Bible is filled with principles and precepts that can inform our every decision. It’s a discussion for another time, but even if you don’t believe the Bible is true, the principles it contains provide valuable insight for daily living. I believe it. My life is better for it. I’m still learning how to make principle-based decisions. I am confident of this, another choice is coming. Are you equipped to make the choice that leads to life?