Choosing What Is Really Important -- By: John Y. May

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 21:2 (Winter 2012)
Article: Choosing What Is Really Important
Author: John Y. May


Choosing What Is Really Important

John Y. May

John May is a retired evangelical Christian writer who lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Introduction

This essay suggests that the biblical view not only demands delineation of right versus wrong, but also calls for value assessments (the better and the best) that are really essential in moral decision-making.

What is it that serves as the guideline or standard for our choices? According to the biblical scheme, the answer is that it is ultimately God’s own disclosure of his will and purposes that performs this function.

Where there is specific instruction—or an implied principle—from divine revelation for a moral issue, then that word of the Lord outweighs the diverse guesses of conflicting human opinion. Nothing less than the guidance of a trustworthy, caring God—and his biblical spokespersons—deserves our full attention. It is precisely from such a vantage point that our decision-making is to be adequately assessed.

Recognition of the good, in its biblical description, begins with what God says and does (Ps. 119:68).1 Being God, he gets to set the standards and make the rules of the human moral quest (Ps. 119:138). And he has done just that.

Issues Of Right And Wrong

Observing that God is the source of the moral order carries the related obligation to find out the details of his requirements. He provides this information in the disclosure of his will and purposes contained in the biblical revelation. Carl F. H. Henry informed us, “the will of God has been focused for men in and through a special activity of intelligible revelation and inspired writings.”2 Dallas Willard, of the University of Southern California, explains that the “written Word of God is an expression of God’s mind…. As we read and study it intelligently, humbly, and openly, we come increasingly to share God’s mind.”3

In this connection, we should notice the astonishing number of very specific commands, precise directions, clear-cut concrete instructions, as well as general principles, which are contained in the Bible for our compliance and which cover scores of ethical situations.

Dealing with the morality of the individual begins with a realistic understanding of the basic human condition—that is its nature, which is sinful and rebellious against God and ...

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