Do you run your life? Most single people believe they do, but this article may be a real eye-opener for you.
We're going to approach it in a methodical way, looking at:
Who is trying to influence you,
How they do it,
Why they do it.
Most of us are not aware of all the voices trying to control us. When we analyze how and why we make decisions, we may find we're not running our life as much as we thought.
Who is trying to run your life? Here's just a partial list:
Sometimes people who want to run your life have good motives. Your parents and relatives love you and want what's best for you, even if you can't always see that. In some cases, though, parents have their own problems and that results in child abuse or overcontrol. It does happen.
Friends may want to influence you for selfish motives. Maybe they want you to conform to their ideas or just sway you. I think that happens more with women than with men, but sometimes men can be controlling too. This isn't anything new. The apostle Paul said, "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'" (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV)
Employers want to get the most profit from your efforts. We owe our employer an honest day's work, but we also need to protect ourselves. Years ago, unions protected workers, but they're not as common as they used to be. Why? Because they got too powerful and cut into profits.
Then there's the government, advertisers, the entertainment business. These forces want to shape your opinion and get you to act in a certain way. It takes real vigilance to see through this and recognize when you're being used.
Even your pastor or church may want to run your life, and when that contradicts Scripture, it can be dangerous. We've all read about cults and the abuse that followers suffered.
Most people never really question who's trying to run their life and why—and that's exactly the way the influencers like it. People who question authority are considered dangerous. Why? Because there's a lot to be gained by controlling people.
I don't want to sound paranoid, but I do want you to realize you're a
human being, not a sheep. When you question the motives of people or
organizations that are trying to influence you, you'll often find they
don't have your bests interests at heart.
That's the way of the world. People who question things and think for themselves are rare. Most folks are passive, allowing others to dictate their opinions or direct their behavior.
Capitalism is a great system, but it requires a relentless stream of advertising to convince us to buy all the junk that's being produced. Then when everybody has whatever is being sold, they convince us we need a newer, bigger, smaller, flashier model of the same thing. It's a never-ending cycle. People who fall for it are constantly in debt.
I'm not anti-capitalist, but I want you to wake up to what's going on. I want you to be discriminating in what you believe.
What can we believe then, with this firehose of ads and propaganda blasting us 24 hours a day? How can we possibly know what choices to make?
You may have guessed where this is heading. In a world that becomes more chaotic by the day, millions of people rely on the Bible as an infallible guidebook for life.
The reason is simple: God is pure love, with no hidden agenda. Because his only motive is love, he always has your best interest at heart.
Although most people say they believe in God, they rarely turn to the Bible for advice. First, it's easier to just listen to people on television or the Internet. Second, the Bible was written thousands of years ago, which makes it seem old-fashioned. And third, many people think following God's instructions will spoil their fun.
Does any of that sound familiar to you?
Here's the thing: It does take some work to find answers in the Bible. It's a book of principles, not a Q&A list, but once you're familiar with God's code of morals, you'll be able to infer what to do in any situation.
Here are two places to start:
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17)
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
You'll also pick up a lot of wisdom in the Bible books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. My favorite way to make the Bible practical is to read The Life Application Study Bible. It has thousands of footnotes showing you how to apply the text to real life situations. It's the easiest way to use the Bible to run your life.
We go to God in prayer when we're trying to figure out what to do. His answers are not audible, but the Bible keeps us on the right path. I've always thought the bracelets teens used to wear were a good idea: WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? That's still a wise question to ask.
We see worldly people all around us. They succumb to every fad, ad, and notion that comes along. They wouldn't know the truth if it hit them upside the head! As a Christian, however, you have the Holy Spirit living inside you to keep you from becoming a pawn of the world.
If you listen to the world, the difference between right and wrong quickly gets blurred. Remember, God is the final decider of right and wrong, and he can always be trusted. His word is timeless. It never needs to change because it has always been true and always will be.
Be wise, then. Be discerning. Don't be a weather vane, blown every direction by the latest trends. Be a lighthouse, solid and steady, shining the right way for others to follow.