Life is noisy. When you go to work or school, projects are clamoring for your attention. When you’re at home, family members need tending. When you’re out with friends, even just trying to have a good time, there are still things that try to draw you away and get your focus off where it should be.
Some folks have tried to never have anything to do with the outside world, but that doesn’t work for a Christ-follower. We’re supposed to be in the world. That means we need to interact, engage, participate. You can’t do that if you never see anyone else. But engaging with people means that you make yourself vulnerable, you open your schedule to be with other people, you risk trouble and heartache and difficulty.
We try to escape where life is quieter. We look for places of refuge. And that’s all well and good. Believe me. I live like a hermit for a reason! But what happens when you have to leave your refuge and dive back into the world?
But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
This is the Apostle Paul talking to Timothy, a young pastor who grew up in the church. It’s easy to understand from both 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy that Paul really cared about this young man, and he has a lot of really wonderful advice to pass on.
This particular tidbit stood out to me, because it isn’t Paul saying that Timothy should only be clear minded in good situations. He’s not supposed to only be clear minded in bad situations either. He’s supposed to be clear minded in every situation, good and bad.
That means when everything is going well, we should make wise choices from a clear head. That also means when everything is falling apart, we should make wise choices from a clear head. Either way, that means we need to keep a clear head. But how do you do that when the world fogs everything up?
It’s easy to make a wise choice in a quiet life, because it’s easier to think straight without hundreds of voices telling you what you should or shouldn’t do. It’s easier to hear God’s voice when it’s just Him and you, although truth be told I do a fairly good job of drowning God out all on my own.
It comes down to how we make our decisions. Do you look at your options and pick the one that feels right? Sometimes that works. Sometimes it’s okay to choose an option that feels right or an option that will bring us the most enjoyment. Nowhere in Scripture does it say we should choose an option because we want to be miserable. Good grief, that’s actually the opposite of what the Bible says. God encourages us to follow His commands so that we can be happy.
What Scripture does say, though, is that we shouldn’t love our comfort and happiness more than Him and His will. If God has said something is wrong, we shouldn’t do it. If God has said not to do something, we shouldn’t do it. If God has said certain things are good to do, that certain things will bring us joy and happiness, those are the things we should do. And in the areas where God isn’t explicit about what is correct and what isn’t, we’re supposed to use the principles we’ve learned from the areas that are black and white to tell us how to proceed.
We shouldn’t ever default to how we feel. Yes, feelings and emotions play a vital role in our lives, and that’s not bad. God created us to be emotional beings, and we shouldn’t ignore that. But our emotions are flawed. They’re broken, just like the world, so that means you can’t always trust them. Instead, you need to trust what you know. That means, you need to trust what the Bible says.
If you can’t make a clear-minded decision, you need to step back. You need to take a break. You need to breathe for a little while. Don’t ever make a decision in anger. Don’t ever jump to a conclusion because you’re upset. Brains and hearts fogged up with emotion are unstable and dangerous, and it’s wise to calm down before you make a decision after you’ve been shaken up by something.
We’re supposed to be out in the world reaching people, loving people like Jesus did. We can’t do that from a refuge. So pack your bags and get out of the house. Don’t stay where you’re comfortable. Push the boundaries of your comfort zone, and go where God tells you. And in the moments when life happens (because it will happen) and the noise of the world is all around you, don’t make hasty decisions in the heat of a moment. Take some time. Calm down. Listen for God’s voice, and act on what He tells you and what you read in the Bible.