Rules of a Godly Life: Making Decisions
The devotional Rules of a Godly Life is split into three sections, focused on Thoughts, Words, and Works. We’ve looked at two Rules already–one from the Words section, on speaking evil, and another from Works, concerning appearance.
Number 15 from the Thoughts section is one of the shortest in the entire devotional, at just two lines:
If you have an important decision to make, or you find yourself in circumstances where you know not what is best to do or answer, spend at least one night in meditation. You will not be sorry.
Another way of saying “sleep on it”? Many of the Rules include an explicit link to Scripture. Here is one you could chalk up to common sense (though I think you could find supportive examples in Scripture as well).
I can see how this would appeal to Amish and other readers. Restraint and contemplation before rash action. I think most people know this by instinct, but worth remembering when you find yourself in a pressure situation.
That said, needlessly putting off decisions can also lead to bad things. Some choices can’t wait. And in some situations decisiveness is rewarded. Being able to identify which type of situation you are in is a skill unto itself, I believe.
As one who sometimes makes decisions too quickly, this does make good sense to me. I discovered Rules of a Godly Life as an appendix in The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World (Kraybill, Nolt and Weaver-Zercher),and copied it so I could refer to it on a regular basis. I found so much of value to take from it and use in my own life.
Rules of Godly Life: Making Decisions
I do that over many of my decisions, although I don’t do it enough. Especially on a major decision. It seems when I do that things come out just fine. When I don’t use it and go do what I want without praying things don’t turn out so well. I am not Amish or Mennonite, but I agree, it is good for all of us to use.
Seems like excellent advice!
The old French proverb ” La Nuit Porte Conseil ” meaning:
‘Night brings counsel.” or “Overnight sleep will bring wisdom on the subject at hand.”
My experience is when I make a rash or spontaneous decision about something important, it’s generally wrong. Whereas, if I think about it and let it develop in my mind, the decision is much better. It seems today people are making many more rash decisions than when I was growing-up. Of course, today it’s much easier to do so with the plethora of credit cards granting instant gratification of material wants and media glamorizing wrong behavior.
This is an excellent applied living in faith peace.
I read “Rules of a Godly Life” regularly, as they are good reminders for the God-fearing. In many ways, they read similarly to the Old Testament Proverbs, which I read a lot, as well. Some of the “Rules” and “Proverbs” make me a little uncomfortable, though. Although great advice, they sometimes feel like they are in the wrong spirit. For example, in Proverbs 25:21-22, King Solomon says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you shall heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward thee.”
In the “Rules,” there is often advice suggesting rather than trusting, you should protect yourself. Like (paraphrase) do not convide too much in a friend in case you should fall out and they might slander you.
Anybody else feel “funny” about these-type suggestions?
Provebs 25; 21-22
This shows the contrast between our taking action against an enemy, through kindness, instead of retribution.
Burning coals melt hard metal, picture a hot forge, and the way metal is manipulated. The hard hearted enemy can be softened, and their hatred tempered by kindnesss bestowed even though they may not deserve it. The Lord rewards those who offer kindness and forgiveness to those who persecute you or hate you.
I have always wondered about the business about heaping coals on your enemy’s head. It seems to contradict “love thine enemy” and “love your neighbor as yourself”. Is it really love if the point is to cause them harm?
The part about confiding too much in your friends will prove itself to be good sense sooner or later, though. Today’s friends can easily become tomorrow’s enemies and there is no sense in giving them the tools to harm you or your loved ones. When you need to confide in a true and unfailing friend “Take it to the Lord in prayer”.
Well, amen to that, Margie.
Rules of a Godly Life: Appearance
I call myself a Gideon (see Old Testament) because I need outward physical signs to confirm that I’m on the right track when I so badly want to go a certain direction. When I was offered my current apartment which I wanted so badly, I prayed if it was the right decision to not have fluorescent lighting but to have at least 1 south window. These were 2 items I desperately felt were necessary after my old apt.
Lattice & Margie, re: “heaping coals on his head” in regards to an enemy, it is nothing that we do but God does in order to try to bring our enemy back to Himself. Just my take on the scripture.
annie and Carolyn B,
Your understanding of this scripture is very interesting and something I have never considered. Thank you!
“It is better to sleep on what you plan to do
than to be kept awake by what you’ve done.”
Coals of fire may be explained as a kindness in sharing live coals in third-world countries, where they may cook with coals, and a fire has gone out. They carry coals, water, or food on their head. A friendly neighbor could help out by giving one burning coal to re-start a fire, or heaping many coals on their head.
The classic book, COALS OF FIRE, by Elizabeth Hershberger Bauman, has 17 true, short, peace stories relating to Romans 12:20-21.
I do appreciate you running this series on Rules of a Godly Life. I too had first heard of and read them in Donald Kraybill’s book The Amish way : patient faith in a perilous world, but this is a great way to contemplate them one at a time. I do like reading what the Amish read themselves for a better understanding of them and a for my personal improvement. Thanks Eric!
Glad you appreciate them Kevin. The devotional is not long and you could read it all in a short time. But I also think looking at things like this one at a time is better for me to wrap my head around an idea.
Maybe you could present 1 part per week. With 47 parts, it would take almost a year, but it is an interesting way to see the rules.
Good thought Lance, we might do something like that.