This weekend, a man was arrested in my town for walking through an apartment complex in his underwear reading the Bible. When asked for an explanation by the police, he said, “God told me to do it.”
Hmmm…did God tell him to walk through a public place inhabited by children, mothers and fathers who deserve a semblance of decency and respect shown in their common environment?
It is sobering to think about how often questionable acts have been justified by the worn-out phrase of, “God told me to do it.”
It’s a tough call for many to make, deciding whether the impulse they feel to act is divinely inspired or humanly motivated. How do we tell the difference?
Certain deeds like walking naked through a public gathering place have guidelines laid out in the law that give clear direction. Other decisions, though, are not so easy to sort out.
What about career paths, partner choices, spending options, or what to tell the boss? How does one know if the choice made is divinely inspired or selfishly motivated?
To answer the question, “Did God tell me to do it?” it helps to elevate the question.
Ask, “Is this choice in harmony with the nature of God?”
For example, with tight budgets and shrinking income, many people are currently struggling with spending decisions. They get confused about what to do when asking, “Does God want me to make a particular purchase?”
It helps to remember that God is Spirit, and Spirit aides us spiritually, not materially.
The material picture is always a limited view of the ultimate spiritual reality which needs to be understood better. If we try to pull God down into the limited mortal view, and ask, “Would God do this?” our reasoning might get complex, confused and feel uncertain. God is infinite. He does not see limited prospects and narrow options. Humans do.
It’s better to go up to God’s point of view, and reason out in terms of spiritual qualities the divine nature expresses. The more we reflect divine qualities in our human actions, the closer to God’s way of doing things our actions will be.
For example, we know that God is an all-knowing Mind that makes wise decisions that lead to positive outcomes. This is a model to hold in thought.
We can ask questions like, “Will our decision lead to a favorable outcome that manifests God’s qualities which include strength, balance, discipline, economy and wisdom? Is it morally sound? Is it going to leave us in a better place?”
Selfish decisions lead to bad outcomes. They put us into more debt, cause strain and stress, worry, doubt and fear. These distressed states of mortal mind are automatic signs that something is wrong in the decision-making. Selfish interest is getting in the way of sound logic and grounded principles.
“Did God tell you to do it?” is answered by, “Is my decision manifesting God-qualities?”
And we have to be honest about what we conclude and not overlook glaring errors. For instance, we might feel justified in buying a new car because it manifests reliability, but if the decision puts us into deeper debt that causes further strain on the budget, and we later complain about the stress, as if we couldn’t help it, we were not honest in our original decision to buy the car. We selectively chose what factors to consider.
Impatience, anger, frustration, discouragement, selfishness, and their kin also get in the way and result in poor decision-making. They are the agents of error, and lead to poor results.
What one purchases or does humanly is not so much the issue compared to the qualities of God being lived. As we demonstrate, “Thy will be done,” by being content with what we have, exercising discipline, dwelling in peace of mind, possessing gratitude, joy, cheer, and patience, we will act in harmony with what God would have us do. Wise choices will be made, and we won’t find ourselves “wandering around naked” in places we ought not to be.
“When the human element in him struggled with the divine, our great Teacher said: ‘Not my will, but Thine, be done!’—that is, Let not the flesh, but the Spirit, be represented in me.” Mary Baker Eddy