Running, Rebelling, Ignoring…Bad Decisions, How Do We Handle Them?
Jonah was given an order. God gave him a message and told Jonah to deliver it to Ninevah. It was cut and dry. No gray area here, just a direct message from God to travel to Ninevah and preach against the wickedness that had come before the Lord. But, it seems in this day and age, in a time with so many options that very few of our decisions are cut and dry. And, try as we may, we don’t always avoid making a bad decision. History has shown us that bad decisions carry consequences. Let’s take a look at some bad decisions:
In 1955, Sam Phillips sold a small recording company to RCA records for $35,000. It included an exclusive contract with a young man by the name of Elvis Presley. Mr. Phillips, in the process of what seemed a smart business transaction, unknowingly forfeited royalties on more than 1 billion records. This was a bad decision.
In 1936, Joe Schuester and Jerry Segal sold the rights to Superman for $65.00 a piece. In 1978, the movie Superman took in more than $134 million. This was a bad decision.
The Boston Red Sox won the 1915, 1916, and 1918 World Series on the back of their ace left-handed hurler George Herman Ruth. In 1919, the Sox sold Ruth to the New York Yankees where the Babe broke nearly every hitting record and won four more World Series rings. To this date, the Red Sox have not won another World Series Championship. This was a bad decision.
Finally, this bear should of just read the sign!!! This was a bad decision.
Jonah made a bad decision—he not only refused to go to Ninevah, but sought to escape to the city furthest away from Ninevah. Jonah felt the consequences of his decision just as the rest of us feel the consequences of our poor decisions. But, what about the crew of the ship Jonah boarded? They didn’t make a bad decision, and yet they suffered because of Jonah’s choices. What happens in our lives when we don’t make the decision ourselves, and the poor choice still effects us? How do we respond to those around us—our friends and family—that make poor decisions?
In order to effectively answer this question, I think we need to first take a look at how people make poor decisions. Whereas it seems there are a ton of reasons we make poor decisions, I am going to suggest three main reasons.
First, we make bad decisions by running from God. Jonah is a prime example. In his reluctance to obey God, he runs to Tarshish to avoid Ninevah altogether. My Sophmore year at USI, I ran from God. My girlfriend of 4 years had left town to attend a school in Birmingham, AL, and with my soccer schedule at USI, I was only able to see her about every 3-4 months for a day at a time. It was a frustrating and scary time for me, as God was telling me to let her go and experience a little freedom. But, as a young man in college, I knew the minds of young men in college, and was fully aware that the men of Samford University weren’t about to respect the relationship boundaries of a boy from Evansville and his high school sweetheart. Instead of listening to God and seeking the comfort of His word I quickly joined the campus party scene and was not quick to leave. In the process, I nearly sacrificed my calling to ministry and my soon to be marriage to my high school sweetheart, beautiful wife, and mother of my soon to be three children—Kathy. Bad decisions are made when we hear God calling clearly, and we run the other way. We know that God’s desire for our lives is to mold us and make us into what He wants us to be, and to many of us and to our friends and family, that idea of change becomes to much, and so we run. And, running from God is a bad decision.
Secondly, we make bad decisions when we rebel against God. In the Garden of Eden God set man at the head of all of creation. Man had the luxury of eating from any tree in the Garden with the exception of one tree—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God let man know that if he ate from this particular tree man would surely die. Aided by the temptation of the evil one in serpent form, Eve and Adam together ate of the tree in direct rebellion of God’s command. Sin entered the world, and to this day man rebels against the commands of God. We see this on a daily basis as people take people’s lives, steal their possessions, lie, cheat, speak badly of each other, and so on and so on, even though God’s commands show us clearly that we are wrong. Friends, when we rebel against God, we make bad decisions.
Lastly, we make bad decisions when we ignore God or are ignorant of God. There once was a man who very adamantly believed in living by faith. He believed that, so long as he prayed in Jesus’ name, believing in faith that God would provide his need, he would receive whatever he asked for. One day he stood up in church and declared that from that day forward, he was trusting God to supply all his needs. He quit his job as a high-ranking official in a fairly large company and moved into a dingy little house on the rougher side of town. The first night he prayed very fervently for God to send him some food, because he was beginning to get hungry. Days went by, and still no sign of food. Finally, beating his breast he screamed to the Lord, "Dear God, I’m going to starve to death unless you feed me. I haven’t eaten or had anything to drink in 4 days!" When he had prayed all he could pray, and was exhausted he fell back on the bed and stared at the wall. In the silence, he heard a small voice calling out his name. "Bill! Bill!"
"I’m here Lord," he cried. "Are you finally answering my prayer?"
"I’ve been answering your prayers," the voice replied. "You’ve just been looking in the wrong direction."
"What do you mean Lord? I don’t understand," he exclaimed, exasperated.
"Walk outside," said the voice.
Bill walked outside, looked all around on the dirty porch, but still found no food. "There’s nothing here, Lord. I don’t see any food."
"You’re looking in the wrong direction. Look up."
Bill looked up, and there right above his head, pasted onto the building next to him, was a huge billboard with big black print that said, "DAY LABORERS WANTED! LUNCH WILL BE PROVIDED."...
In Mark 10, the rich young man asks Jesus how to receive the gift of eternal life. Jesus tells him to sell all he has, give it to the poor, and to follow him. The young man ducks his head, ignores the truth, and walks away. SHOW NEWSPAPER CLIP—DENNIS TURNER CONVICTED OF DRUGS
When we ignore God or are ignorant of his love and plan for our lives, we make bad decisions.
Now that we better understand what causes bad decisions, how do we respond to those that make bad decisions? (JONAH "A Veggitales Movie" CLIP) I think the answer is clear. God did not ignore Jonah, and He did not leave him to die. In dealing with friends and family that have made poor decisions we need to remember that God does not ignore us, and we need to confront them. Now, I realize that confrontation is a strong word, but I believe it is the word to use. In order for us to realize that God gives us Second Chances, He must show us that we screwed up our first chance. People that make bad decisions must see where they went wrong, or they are sure to do it again. Webster defines the word confront as coming face to face with, especially with defiance or hostility. This definition simply will not work in what we are trying to accomplish, so we need to confront in a different manner. As Christians we need to confront our friends and family who make bad decisions with care, with compassion, and with Christ. First, they must know we care about what they do because we love them, and not because it effects us. Jesus cared enough of the rich young man to explain to him the gift of eternal life. Even though the man rejected reality, Jesus showed him love, and gave him the true answer that he needed to hear. Secondly, they must see and hear our compassion. Even as Jonah ran away from the Lord, defied his command, and was thrown into the sea, God had compassion on him and gave him a second chance. We must show compassion to those we confront in love and care in order to show that even though the decision effects us we solely care for them and their well being. Ultimately, we must show them Christ. From the fall of man in the Garden of Eden man has sinned and fell short of the glory of God. You and I, our friends, and our families are no exception to the rule. And, despite our bad decisions, our running, our rebelling, and our ignorance, God has given his one and only son to take away our sins and give us eternal life. God has confronted our bad decisions with care, compassion, and ultimately with Christ. Let’s learn from Him as we look to address bad decisions effecting us even right now, and be careful to give him the glory and honor for the changes he will make.