Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Over the years we've lived near the ocean, and we were blessed to have a friend who was a veteran sailor. He'd been sailing the East Coast since he was a boy. And he was generous enough to allow us to go sailing with him sometimes and to watch a master at work. I tried to apply for "first mate," but he always said, "Don't call us, we'll call you." Which he never did. But I was a grateful, and I was a curious passenger. He told me some great stories of sailing adventures. He showed us how to do some of what he did, and he related times that he had seen one sailboat after another fall over as they were unprepared for a shift in the wind. You don't have to be a seasoned seaman to understand a fundamental law of a successful voyage: It's the set of the sail, not the force of the gale, that determines the way you go.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Set of Your Sail."
That law is never more true and never more important, than when it comes to making "no regrets" choices when you're under great pressure to make wrong choices. The Old Testament leader, Daniel, gives us a sterling example of setting your sail in our word for today from the Word of God.
He's only a young man when a pagan king demands that he and his Jewish friends eat certain foods that the king has prescribed for guys in his leadership-training program. And you don't mess with the king. But Daniel's faith in Jehovah God forbids him to eat those foods; especially in light of the fact that they have been used in idol worship. To do the right thing could cost him an incredible future. It could cost him his life even. But Daniel 1:8 tells us that in spite of the probable price tag, "Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine." He risks everything. He stands up to massive pressure, and ultimately is blessed by God and rewarded by the king with great position and privilege. Over and over in his life, even into his senior years, Daniel is faced with similar moral choices that could cost him everything. And every time, he does the right thing.
Is that you? The force of the gale on Daniel was powerful. He didn't cave in because he had firmly set his sail in God's direction. And no one - not even the most powerful person in the world - could blow him off course. In order for you to be that kind of moral champion, you're going to need more than just a list of rules that your religion gave you. You'll need deep-down inside convictions, based not so much on a list of what's wrong, but on the ability to know what makes something wrong for a child of God.
So set your sail by asking these five questions about your life-choices: 1. Will this pollute or damage my body, which is God's temple? ( 1 Corinthians 6:19-20); 2. Will this hurt my reputation? ( Proverbs 22:1); 3. Could this control me? ( Matthew 6:24). Anything that's controlling your mind or your time or your affections means Jesus isn't. The 4th question: will this hurt people I influence? ( Romans 14:13). And finally: 5. Will this discredit Jesus? ( Colossians 3:17). That Five-Way Test for your life choices will help you measure every decision by the things that matter to Jesus. It's not rules - it's reasons to do what's right; to do what Jesus wants. He's the only One who loved you enough to die for you!
The heavy winds of pressure to do what others want you to do will continue to blow hard. But that won't decide what you do. No, it will be the set of your sail, pre-set before God, before the choice arises. And remember, it's the set of your sail, not the force of your gale, that will determine the way you go!