Making Biblical Decisions: Working to Grow and Help Others Grow in Christ, Part 4 – January 19, 2024

As we consider what it means to make decisions that promote our growth and other’s growth in Christ, we turn now to the Words of Christ in Mark 8. When we concern ourselves with growth in Christ it means we must take up our cross to follow Christ. Christ pictured complete abandonment to ourselves and this world for Him through this statement. We have romanticized the cross today. We use crosses as decorations. We put it on jewelry. And some even tattoo it on their body. We have made the cross safe and suitable. But there is nothing safe about the cross. This call to take up our cross refers to the Roman practice of parading condemned criminals through the city. At the same time, they carried the heavy horizontal beam of the cross to the place of their execution. When they arrived, their arms were outstretched and attached with nails or ropes to that beam. The beam was then hoisted up on a post so that the criminal could be exposed to the crowd until he died.

In the same way, Jesus is calling his followers to die to themselves and to accept the shame that comes with following Christ. He calls his followers to give up this world and take their place alongside Jesus on the cross. Biblical decision-making calls for the believer to recognize that while all things may be lawful, not everything edifies. We must sacrifice ourselves, our dreams, and our desires so that others may grow in Christ.

There is perhaps no better place to observe this principle pictured than in the marriage relationship. In Ephesians 5, Paul reveals that the marriage relationship is a picture of the relationship between Christ and His Church. As such, both the husband and wife hold responsibilities to seek the other’s growth in Christ over their dreams and desires. Each reveals through their decisions and actions that their priority is to see the other flourish in their relationship with Christ.

First, God calls the wife to submit to her husband. This action is voluntary; the wife places herself under her husband’s authority. She does not become his slave without a voice. Instead, she accepts her place as his teammate, yielding the final decision making to him. She seeks to hold him in respect and treat him with kindness. She aims to lay aside her dreams and ambitions for her family’s good and her husband’s growth in Christ. As she makes decisions, she does not only ask if it is sinful, but she also asks if it is the best thing for her husband so that he might rightly reflect Christ.

Second, the husband reflects Christ in how he leads his wife. Thus, he leads in the same way that Christ does. He sacrifices for his wife like Christ sacrificed His life for us. Rather than demand his way, the husband surrenders his life for his wife’s good. Rather than prioritize his ambitions, he sacrifices them for his wife’s dreams. He is willing to give up his life entirely for his wife. He seeks to present his wife to Christ, pure and holy. When he makes decisions, Biblical decision-making requires that he asks how this decision will spur his wife to grow in Christ.

In this way, the biblical marriage pictures Biblical decision-making for us. We do not make decisions with selfish ambitions or personal gratification in mind. Instead, we make decisions that seek to encourage our walk and other’s walk with Christ. While all things may be lawful in that we are redeemed through Christ’s blood, we are not free to make these decisions because they hinder growth in Christ.

As Paul continues to examine the second principle of edification (that we must encourage spiritual growth) in 1 Corinthians 10, he also addresses how our decisions stifle growth through offense in verse 32. As we seek to make Biblical decisions, we must be careful not to give offense to anyone, including unbelievers. Christians seem to have a reputation in the world as mean and angry people. Perhaps this is due to the sinful ways we make and proclaim our decisions. For many Christians, we hold our political positions as an idol. We portray a belief that the solution to the world’s problems is not the Gospel. Instead, we show a belief that the government functioning according to our political persuasions is the solution. We grant all who lead our political persuasion sainthood. And we vilify all who oppose our positions. While some Christians might dismiss this conclusion as a caricature and overgeneralization, quickly perusing their social media accounts should rid them of this self-deceit. As they decide how to respond in the public square to political debate, the idea of the Gospel and seeing others grow in Christ fades to the background.

Unfortunately, many Christians seem to seek to provoke sinful responses in others, like anger and wrath, in the way they interact. Indeed, God calls Christians to proclaim the truth. However, God calls us to proclaim the truth in love. Our goal is not simply to do right but to encourage others to grow in Christ. As a result, as we make decisions, we seek to avoid unnecessary offense so that others may grow in their walk with Christ.