There are all sorts of snappy slogans, witty proverbs and inspiring couplets that talk about doing what is best. Most of these fail to define how to determine what that is.
In the best of worlds such things would be easily decided, like the county fair with blue, red and white ribbons in order of quality. In such a world, when the best was chosen it would end up as neatly as an episode of “Touched By an Angel.” Imagine everyone involved gathered with smiles and hugs reflecting positively on the valuable lesson learned.
Alas! We are in a fallen world strewn with broken fences, bumpy roads and fallible people. We can’t completely write the scripts we have to live. So we walk among broken glass and broken hearts on roads that don’t have just one fork, but turns and dead ends, twists and more forks leading somewhere beyond our field of vision. And for the Christian who seeks to live a holy life, the choices are even more complicated.
Choosing the best can be extremely complicated. Imagine a disagreement among friends. You are convinced that your point is better than your friend’s. But in pressing the correctness of your view you run the risk of injuring him. Sometimes there are more important things than being right. At the critical moment a judgment must be made as to whether more is to be lost by insisting on our own way or letting go. But even with this we may fail to do what is best. Maybe the best interests of our friend would be served if we reminded him that there is a viewpoint other than his. What may be at stake is the development of your friend or yourself as a person. Just what is the best course?
Choosing what is best often comes at great cost. On television the hero is recognized sooner or later for his actions. However, making the best choice may expose you to ridicule, misunderstanding or being accused of acting in your own interests. Worse, you can be ignored altogether with no visible reward or acknowledgment for choosing what is best. Another choice, another course, might have allowed at least some personal gratification. But the values of the Kingdom will not allow such personal considerations. Either the best is chosen or it is not. Either the ethics of your life as a Christian are lived or they are not. Either you are what your words say or you are not.
Discipleship has its costs. We ought not to seek pain just fir its own sake, but when it comes as a result of our choices, are we to cry to God about allowing the suffering that results? If we have committed ourselves to the more excellent way are we to complain because it is uphill and the wind blows in our face? If we have surrendered what we are to what He will make us, are we to grumble that the price demands our all? And when we choose what is best, dare we turn away from it because it separates us from the complacency of our conceited culture?
Was this the message Jesus was trying to get across when He said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37, 38).
Nothing that falls short of God’s full approval is worthy of our consideration. No choice, no relationship, no motive that would dissolve in the acid test of the Holy Spirit’s examination can be called Christian. Using the means at our disposal for knowing the will of God, no excuse for taking a stand on lower ground will stand up before the Lord in that Day.
Holiness is not some sloppy half-effort for heaven but a full press toward the goal, recognizing that our best is not much. But the Lord who knew how to handle the best as found in a little boy’s lunch on the hillside crowded by the thousands knows full well how to use our tiny offering when we are willing to choose the best.