Beware Snap Judgments

One of the things I’ve gotten better at as I’ve gotten older is to be slower to make a judgment call/decision. Don’t get me wrong, when I need to make a snap decision because the situation demands it, I fully understand the consequences of “paralysis by analysis.” There I’ve tended to be just as quick as possible. I ascribe a lot of that to playing sports all my life. However, when there’s time and especially when it’s an important situation, I have gotten better at slowing down and carefully considering my choices before coming to a conclusion:

All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.  – Daniel 6:7-9, ESV

In the commentaries it’s often mentioned that what Darius agreed to here was traditional: that upon taking over new territory the conquering ruler would issue such edicts. It was a method of consolidating power. This situation could also be a warning against blindingly accepting tradition, but that’s another devotional for another time. In any case, many of Daniel’s enemies devised a way, knowing Daniel’s habits, to entrap both him and the king. Therefore, under the guise of a traditional proclamation, they tricked Darius into signing a bad edict. That edict would force him to cast Daniel into a den of lions. Effectively, they had tricked Darius into proclaiming a death sentence on Daniel.

If you know the rest of the story, you know that Daniel didn’t alter his behavior. He prayed as was his practice. He made no measure to hide it. He knew what he was doing was right in the sight of God. As a result, his enemies were able to drag him before Darius and point out the new law. Darius was trapped. Darius carried out the sentence and thankfully God intervened and saved Daniel’s life. God did so to protect Daniel, not to preserve Darius. Even so, when I look at the Scriptures I do not find this to be the norm.

Therefore, we should not expect God to intervene for our every act of foolishness. The Bible is filled with examples where people were foolish and either they or others suffered the consequences of that foolishness. Making a snap judgment when there’s time to consider the choices is foolishness. It was foolish for Darius and it’s foolish when we do it. God has promised us wisdom when we ask for it and are determined to act on it (James 1:5-8). Therefore, we should use His wisdom at every opportunity. We should avoid snap judgments whenever possible. There are plenty of mechanisms out there to help us slow down and not rush a decision. Different things work for different people. If you’re the type who too often acts without thinking things through, do a bit of research and try the different methods. After all, while Christians may look foolish to the world, let it be due to our belief in the truth of Scripture and of a God who intervenes in the life of His people and not in acts of true foolishness. The former glorifies God. The latter glorifies no one.

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