I remember a rare snow day in Austin when I was in high school. We took genius advantage of the opportunity to be dragged around the streets behind a buddy’s car, on a spare tire connected by a long chain. As we drove by my house doing our “redneck sled-ride” my mother emphatically communicated to STOP! I think her actual words were “Are you crazy?!” In essence she was asking that infamous question, “What were you thinking?”
As I review my life, it seems that question was relevant on many occasions. For example, when my brother and I jumped off the roof holding a trash bag for a parachute. Unfortunately those “what was I thinking” moments are not isolated to childhood or even teenage years. The answer to “what was I thinking” explains many of our actions. To a large degree, our actions, based on our thinking, explain where we are in life and who we are as people. What are your “what was I thinking” moments? Did they involve:
- Dating, breaking up, or promiscuity
- Marriage or divorce
- Drugs or alcohol
- Career moves
- Illegal, immoral, or risky behaviors
- Careless words or hurtful actions
If you regret the actions you took in those “what was I thinking” moments, you may want to know how to avoid them in your future.
Just Do What’s Right
The way to avoid those “what was I thinking” events is to simply do what is right. I can hear you now, “well… duh!” I’m sorry for the insult to your intelligence. But this is not as obvious as it might initially sound. Consider what the apostle Peter was inspired to write:
Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. (1 Peter 4:19 NASB)
The above words were written to Christians who were suffering intense persecution because of their faith. And I am not talking about people snickering when you bow to pray before a meal or contemptuous looks when you mention God. Many in Peter’s original audience had to flea their homes or homeland, live amongst strangers, and abandon their livelihoods. Imagine persecution that makes you an exile, makes it hard to get a job, and even separates you from family and friends. With that background it is even more striking that Peter was inspired to offer the instruction to those who were suffering: do what is right! This coming from a man who knew what it was like to suffer for his faith. Peter was threatened, thrown in jail, and beaten for preaching about the resurrected Jesus. Peter also knew what it was like to deny God for fear of persecution. He knew what it was like to betray his soul to protect his flesh. Peter, who has experienced both sides of this spectrum leaves us this inspired instruction – do what is right. But doesn’t just leave it at that. He goes on to give a three-fold solution.
1 Entrust Your Soul
…those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls…
We are to trust. I like to remind people that faith is believing and trusting. Believing is about facts, and trusting is about reliance… to trust is to rely on. I believe Christians have more trouble with trusting than believing. 1 Peter 4:19 encourages us to trust God with our souls. When we follow God, it is always best for our souls. Trusting what God had called Peter to do didn’t always keep him out of jail or even from being beaten. But Peter did know what it was like to go outside of God’s will and deny his Lord. This instruction is from the Holy Spirit, but it came through a person who had experienced trusting God and not trusting God. Peter knew the conviction and torture his soul experienced for denying his Savior three times and the torture his body endured for following Jesus.
2 To a Faithful Creator
…entrust their souls to a faithful Creator…
Do you find it interesting that “Creator” is used here rather than “God?” Perhaps Creator was used to remind us of an attribute in who we are trusting, our “Creator!” Who better to rely on in this world than the one who created it? But not only is God your Creator – He is “faithful.” This word (pistos in the original Greek) means “trustworthy.” Who better to trust in how to live your life than the one who knit you together in your mother’s womb?
Most things you purchase come with an owner’s manual. The owner’s manual generally includes instructions for how to operate, maintenance, and what to do when things don’t seem to be working. Why would you bother paying attention to the owner’s manual? Well, because it is produced by the entity that created the product! They ought to know the best way for the product to function. If you agree that you have a Creator and that Creator knows you, and that Creator loves you, and that Creator is all powerful and all knowing, then doesn’t it make sense to place your trust in what He has communicated to His Creation?
3 Do Right
…entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
- entrust their souls
- to a faithful Creator
- in doing what is right
Doing what is right seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? You likely have heard this your entire lives. Well let’s examine what this really looks like. First of all, the standard for “right” or “good” is God’s standard – the same God who has revealed Himself in scripture, the same God whose Spirit intermingles with your spirit. The message in 1 Peter 4:19 is that each decision you make is to be determined by what is right according to God’s revelation. What might your life look like if you removed the following from your decision making apparatus:
- Fleshly desires and appetites
- Uncomfortable situations
- Worldly customs and ways
- Fears and anxieties
- Desire for comfort and ease
- Desire to fit in or be accepted by the world
Instead, what would it look like if you aligned your thoughts, desires, and actions with heaven’s ways? Where would you currently be if God’s revelation had always determined things like your career, entertainment, sex life, conflict, confrontation, forgiving, or reconciling with those we have hurt. What if our thinking, and hence our decision-making, was aligned with heaven in whatever we faced? There is no cookie cutter answer to that question – we are individual masterpieces (Ephesians 2:10). For some it might mean less physical comfort. For others it might mean more persecution. But for all it will mean the security and benefit of placing our souls–mind and emotions–in the care of the One who knows us and loves us. Peter goes on in the same letter to reassure us by saying…
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7 NASB)
What’s the advantage? The apostle Paul rounds out the solution when he explains that when we rely on the Lord…
…the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 NASB)
You Must Choose
“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?” (Luke 6:46 NLT)
Being a Christian isn’t just about going to heaven some day. Being a Christian is about participating in the kingdom of Heaven right now. Being a Christian is about having a Lord, a master of your soul (mind, will, and emotions). So what are you thinking? Our thoughts dictate our actions. So it’s vital to examine what you are thinking. Are your thoughts aligned with the world or your flesh? Or are your thoughts aligned with Heaven and God’s instruction? Whenever you are faced with a challenging or confusing circumstance, refer to the Bible for your guidance. Period. That’s the only safe source.
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. ESV