Both Ways? Making Difficult Decisions

DirectionsIn the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz, which has terrified and inspired multiple generations, the heroine is faced with an unexpected fork in the road. Her brainy friend, Scarecrow, tries to give her wise advice about her choices, arguing for both sides and concluding, “Some people do go both ways.” While no one can really go two ways at once, we are sometimes faced with gray areas in life, issues not directly addressed in Scripture, which leave us wishing we could. Knowing God doesn’t mean we know all the answers, but we can do better than Scarecrow, following these godly principles when making difficult decisions. 


It’s almost never wrong to wait.


In the presence of fire or blood, forget this advice! But in non-emergency situations, wisdom suggests we take time with our choices. Time provides room to think, pray, seek counsel and sleep on the problem. Although it might feel better to get it over with, it can also be a relief to give God a few days or a few weeks to speak into our circumstances. Things might look very different in the morning. It’s almost never wrong to wait on the Lord. (Psalm 37:7; Isaiah 30:18, Romans 12:12)


Err on the side of love.


People tend to err on the side of rules because rules give us certainty and control in an uncertain world. However, a close reading of the New Testament reveals that we are meant to move beyond rules in our maturity as Christians to places of the heart. This means greater responsibility as Jesus makes clear in the beatitudes and greater freedom as Paul points out in many of his letters. It means taking a hard look at our own motives and determining what comes from love rather than self-interest – love for God first (considering what pleases Him) and love for others second. God is pleased by things like generosity, forebearance, courage and personal holiness, but He is pleased by love most of all, thinking so much of that attribute as to put it first among many and to call Himself “love.” Love does not give us certainty or control, but it makes us beautiful in God’s eyes. (Matthew 7:12; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Colossians 3:14)


Give God the responsibility.


There may come a point when we have done all that we know to do, a deadline approaches and we can wait no longer. Then we have the security of laying our decision on God’s big shoulders, telling Him we are going to move in the direction which seems best but that we want Him to guide, redirect or even stop us if we are not following His footsteps. Giving Him the choice in this manner allows us to move forward in peace, with the confidence that He is in control. (Psalm 31:3,4; Proverbs 16:9; Mattnew 10:29-31)


Let your decision be worship.


In the end, we must do the thing which is worship. We are limited and fallen, and our choices are messy whenever the human heart is involved. Beware, especially, of making sacrifices for others. A sacrifice is a treasure offered to a god, not a man. Neither is it an economic exchange. If I end up angry, then my choice was not really worship, not given to God for whatever HE wanted to accomplish; instead, I was looking for something for myself, something I did not receive. So above all, when the choice has to be made, make it for worship. Make it to please Christ. And then don’t look back whatever the result, because your choice WILL accomplish its purpose: it will rise like incense before God’s throne, a pleasing aroma in Heaven. (Micah 6:8; Luke 12:29-31; Colossians 3:17)


When the pros and cons are confusing and wisdom argues both sides, give yourself time to make a choice, lean toward love, relinquish control to the Lord and worship God with your decision. Because, as much as we might want to, no one can really go both ways.


  1. What decision are you making currently?  (If none, then think of a decision you made recently.)
  2. Might you benefit from waiting on the Lord for a time?
  3. What would it mean to “err on the side of love” for this decision?
  4. Have you laid this choice on God’s altar for whatever HE wants?  If not, can you do that right now?
  5. What would it mean to make this choice in such a way that the result mattered less than giving it to God for His purposes?