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Bible Reading and Text: James 5:12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
Introduction: There is a tendency that plagues many people, and the people of God are not exempt! If this tendency is not dealt with, it will haunt the person for their entire life, making their life one of misery and regret. That tendency is doubting their decisions or condemning themselves for making certain decisions.
Nervousness and insecurity are part of being human. These things manifest themselves differently from person to person as coping mechanisms. Often they are verbal coping mechanisms. One person who is feeling insecure may ask, “You know what I’m saying?” after almost every statement. Another may suck air through their teeth when they are inwardly unsure about something they just said or did. Yet another may repeat words like, “right?”, “ya know?” after almost every statement. And (to name one of my own) “Amen…praise the Lord” more times than necessary. When done to an extreme, all of these can make it difficult to listen to them at times because these tendencies can become the focus and therefore overshadow what they’re actually saying or doing.
I personally have a difficult time listening to someone speak when I have to constantly ignore these verbal coping mechanisms. But, as I said earlier, nervousness and inward insecurity are part of being human, so we’re not throwing stones just because we’re commenting on something.
It certainly contributes greatly to our communication skills when we can identify and hopefully minimize and eradicate these verbal coping mechanisms and learn, by God’s grace, to become confident in what we are saying or doing.
As I said earlier, many people possess the tendency to condemn themselves and doubt the decisions they are making. I’m not talking about a decision to sin…we should be condemned by that. I’m talking about decisions that carry no sinful component, but people still feel insecure about making.
I’m also not talking about the process of weighing your options on a matter before coming to a final conclusion. I went through about five different titles for this message before I felt settled on this one.
But, I’m talking about when someone makes one choice, they are not settled with it. If they make another choice, they’re not settled with it. If they choose a third option, they’re not settled with it. They always have a reason why they should and they always have a reason why they should not. Because of this, they often make no decision at all…and then they have doubts about that!
The Bible gives clear instruction about how to make confident decisions and how to be confident once you have made those decisions, and that is what we’re going to look at in this message!
Doubting Your Decisions Won’t Change Much of Anything
Once a decision is made, constantly doubting the decision probably won’t make much of a difference in the effect of that decision. It’ll just drive you crazy!
Matthew 5:37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Someone who cannot commit to a final decision on something, even when they have as much information as possible on it, probably also has a tendency of not following through on things they start. They also run the risk of seeming like they have ulterior motives. It’s as if they don’t want to fully commit in case something goes wrong and, rather than getting the glory, they get the blame. Those who cannot commit to a decision may also be waiting in case “something better” comes along, then they can jump ship.
In the area of Matthew 5:37, the Lord teaches us to weigh our options, check our intentions, confidently make our decisions, and stick with them. Don’t make any special oaths “on a stack of Bibles” or “On my great, great grandma’s grave!”. Usually people who use excessive language like that cannot be trusted and they are trying hard to sound convincing.
Rather Than Fear and Doubt, What We Really Seek Is Wisdom
James 1:5-8 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (6) But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (7) For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. (8) A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
You may ask the Lord, “Should I do this or do that?” If you get no clear answer, weigh all the reasons why you think you shouldn’t and all the reasons why you think you should and go with the one that you believe serves the best and greatest purpose.
Then stick with it! Let the tree fall where it may! Or as Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 11:3 …and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be. Sometimes you just don’t know which way the proverbial “tree” is going to fall and you have to learn how to be comfortable with that.
To do anything differently is to be ruled by the spirit of fear, and remember what Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. It takes the power of confidence, love for yourself, and a stable (sound) mind to make a confident decision, being convinced of your true intentions, and letting the tree fall where it may. Not in an angry and pushy way, but just letting it happen and being at peace with the outcomes.
We Must Let God Purify Our Hearts of Double Mindedness
James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
“…and purify your hearts…” Purify our hearts from what? From fear. Fear of what? fear of rejection…fear of other people’s opinions…fear of making the wrong decisions…fear that you may lose some opportunity
BTW, when making a decision, if you have to say to yourself things like “They can just get over it!” or “I don’t care if they like it or not!” with a raunchy attitude, then you really aren’t comfortable with the decision yet. You are still trying to justify it and convince yourself.
The idea is, “I know why I’m doing this and I believe I have the right intentions and goals in it”. I’ll use myself as an example, like Paul did. I can probably think of at least five good reasons why I should not have a blog or post anything from my blog online. I can also probably think of at least five good reasons why I should. Which one should I do? The one I believe serves the most good. It isn’t about the number of subscribers or the greatness of the content. It’s about what I believe in my heart I should be doing. Are there people who disapprove? Probably! Are there people who approve? Probably! There is a point at which you just say “yes” or “no” and quit revisiting it in your mind.
Once You’ve Weighed the Options, Stick With Your Decisions
John 6:65-66 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. (66) From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
“…many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” – Did Jesus sit around saying, “Should I not have said that? Did I miss God on that message?”. No, He didn’t! He doubled down and asked those closest to Him in John 6:67 …Will ye also go away? Offending the masses wasn’t the goal, but neither was keeping them at any cost the goal either!
Pilate, as wicked as he was, understood the concept of sticking with your decisions in John 19:19-22 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. (20) This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. (21) Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. (22) Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.
There really can be a time when you stop trying to placate the masses, who are only following the other masses, anyway. Ask God to help you just stick to your convictions! There will those who don’t like it, and there will be those who do like it. But, neither of those are the goal…I know it’s hard to believe that being approved of is not the goal!
The goal is being at peace with God about our decisions, or as Paul puts it in Romans 14:22-23 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. (When you are at peace that what you are doing is right before the Lord, and you truly know why you are doing it, you are set free from the need to make sure everyone understands and that everyone is okay with it – as the Bible also says in 1 Corinthians 10:29 …for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience? – In other words, if it’s just preference, then it’s totally okay if someone doesn’t like something you’re doing (provided it isn’t sinful). You don’t even have to get mad about it!). Happy is he (obviously this applies to women too) that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. (23) And he that doubteth is damned (condemned) if he…(fill in the blank with whatever decision you are making at the time.)
“Pastor Fulmer, if you teach this, there will be people who do things and say it’s from God!”. Probably, but as the Bible also says in Romans 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth… In other words, they’ll have to answer to God for that, not to us!
So, Let Your Yea Be Yea and Your Nay Be Nay!
James 5:12 …but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
Paul calls pride 1 Timothy 3:6 …the condemnation of the devil. But, the inability to stick with a decision you’ve made is also the condemnation of the devil. It plagues you with the torment that “Maybe I’ve done something wrong” or “I wonder if I’ll get preached at for it” (if that’s the way people who are learning and trying to get better are handled, then you can’t do much about that toxicity anyway)…“Maybe I’ve made someone angry” or “Maybe I won’t be considered”. My friend, at some point you will make the wrong decision (or be thought to have made the wrong decision), you will make someone angry, and you will lose opportunities.
Those are not the questions to ask. The question to ask is, “Provided the decision doesn’t include sin, are you at peace with your decision, as unto the Lord?” If so, remember Romans 14:22 …Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.