Saturday, March 10, 2007

How to Make Decisions--Philippians 1:10

“…so that you may approve what is excellent…”

Today you will be faced with many decisions. You will be encountered by many people and will engage in many conversations. More than likely you will make decisions about how to spend your time, how to spend your money, who to spend your time with, etc. You will be making decisions about what movies or television programs you view. You will decide which music to listen to. Ultimately you will decide each and every day and in every moment of each day whether you will approve that which is excellent or whether you will not.

The word that Paul uses for “approve” is the Greek word dokimazo (pronounced dok-im-ad’-zo). In Greek culture “dokimazo was used…to describe the [the testing] of precious metals (especially gold or silver coins), usually by fire, to prove whether they were authentic and whether they measured up to the stated worth. That which endures the test was called dokimos and that which fails is called adokimos.”
[1] Paul then is saying that he prays that with every decision the Philippians are faced with they might through it in the fire and test whether or not it is something which they should esteem.

Paul has thus far prayed that the Philippians love might abound more and more, but not only emotional love. We learned yesterday that it is a grounded love; a love that is filled with knowledge and discernment. Discernment, of course, is the ability to distinguish between the good and the bad, or perhaps able to detect the good from the better. The reason Paul wants their love to abound more and more and it to be a grounded love is because this type of love (for God and man) will enable you to approve that which is excellent.

Also it is worth noting that which they should be “approving”. The Philippians abounding love should create in them a knowledge and discernment which approves (testing and choosing) that which is excellent. The word for excellent could (and perhaps should) be translated vital. Notice that Paul is not necessarily saying merely to distinguish between good and evil, but more than that we are to discern the good from the best. There will be many things in your life (and perhaps even decisions you make today) which are “good” things, but perhaps not the “best” things. We must have such a love that is grounded in knowledge and discernment that we are able to distinguish between that which appears to be good and that which is actually the plan of God.

I fear that so often in our culture we settle. I have heard many of our youth make comments about movies, “It’s really not that bad”. “There is only one bad scene”. “That CD is actually pretty good; it only has a couple of songs that have cuss words”. Sadly, its not only youth culture that struggles with this. There are many good “How to” sermons, yet they fall short of biblical preaching. If our life (this includes our preaching the gospel, our ministries, our decisions, etc.) is not totally consumed by Christ so that daily we are approving of that which is excellent (that which is reflecting Christ and His preciousness) then we are missing it.
  • In what way do I sell myself short by approving of that which is “good” or “not all that bad” yet it is not that which is excellent?
  • Am I concerned with approving that which is excellent?
  • What are things in your life that need to be taken captive for the sake of Christ so that you can forsake that which is unnecessary for that which is vital?

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