Many choices in life are not clear-cut. Decisions are not always between the best and worst alternatives. Life is not that simple. Sometimes there just is no easy answer. In fact, sometimes the consequences are painful no matter what we do.
Some dilemmas are of our own making. Sin always puts us in a predicament. When the unjust steward heard that he was about to lose his job, he was caught in his own laziness and dishonesty. He asked, “What shall I do? For my master is taking away my stewardship from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg” (Luke 16:3). But he figured out a way to get out of this fix. Lazy and dishonest people have an uncanny ability to find a way out of work.
Once a person goes down the road of sin, the forks in the road are often equally painful. Drugs and casual sex bring momentary pleasure, but these sins complicate one’s life. “The way of the unfaithful is hard” (Prov. 13:15). Even if a person turns to God in repentance, the earthly consequences are difficult to bear. It has often been said that sin will take you farther than you ever imagined. How many have learned this after the damage was done?
Even a good person can choose the wrong path and find himself in a bind. David numbered the Israelite soldiers and offended God (II Sam. 24). God let him choose his own form of punishment: either seven years of famine, being chased three months by his enemies, or a three-day plague in the land (II Sam. 24:13). David’s reply was, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man” (v. 14). Sometimes the options in life are not between a best and a worst case scenario.
Life’s dilemmas are not always caused by our sin. Sometimes no matter what we do there will be hardship. When we deal with others there is often the potential for conflict or even greater conflict. If someone is doing wrong we feel that we should say something. On the other hand, if we do speak up we might make the situation worse. Every family faces this dilemma. Every church wrestles with this problem. There are some Bible principles to remember. Weigh the wrong in light of Scripture. Some things are worse than others. Jesus talked about the “greater sin” (John 19:11). Paul told the Corinthians not to blow the “smallest matters” out of proportion (I Cor. 6:2). Always consult the Bible as to whether the matter is big or small. There are some things we should not be quiet about. A brother in the church at Corinth was living in fornication (I Cor. 5). Paul told the brethren not to wait any longer about dealing with this sin. They needed to act right away without fearing the fallout from the withdrawal of fellowship. Also, there are some people we are not to argue with or even try to correct. “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself” (Prov. 9:7). This is especially true if we have already warned the person before (Titus 3:10).
As we approach the end of our journey we relate to the dilemma that Paul mentioned. It was his feelings about two good outcomes. If he lived longer he could teach and help others, but if he died he could go to that sweet land of rest. How did he feel about this? It was like being between a rock and a hard place. “For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you” (Phil. 1:23-24). If you find yourself struggling with the same feelings, don’t feel guilty. You’re in good company.