“Thus says the Lord: Stop at the crossroads and look around you. Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it. You will find rest for your souls.”
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
These two passages, one from the OT and one from the NT, admonish us to be intentional and wise in response to the situations of life and work. Jeremiah gives four four practical steps for responding with wisdom:
1. Stop and Think
There are two very different ways to go about life: You can feel and react, or you can think and respond. You can be guided by intentional thinking or by impulsive emotion.
When you experience a crossroad in life, that is, when you arrive at a decision point and are confronted with a situation … press pause. Slow down, get off autopilot, and give yourself time to think. The more challenging the situation, the more important it is that you stop and think.
“One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.” (Proverbs 14.16)
We get in trouble when we act too quickly on the basis of impulse and habit. It is imperative that we slow down and think. This is the battle between our new nature in Christ and our old nature, between intention and impulse.
The old nature—the sin nature—is unwise. It does not want to consider and evaluate. It simply reacts based on how it feels. It wants us to act with default-driven habit. The old nature doesn’t want to think; it wants to act according to emotional impulse. The old nature wants us to do what is comfortable and convenient, not what is necessary.
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5)
Our new nature, directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, guides us to slow down, press pause, pray, and seek wisdom. It wants us to act with discipline-driven intention, purpose, and skill. The new nature wants us to do what is necessary, not what is comfortable and convenient.
The conflict between the impulsive reactions of the old nature and the intentional actions of the new nature is life’s greatest battle. No one is exempt. Whether at work or at home, we are confronted daily with the battle: New nature vs old nature. Discipline vs default.
The first step in winning that battle is to stop and think, pray, and respond to the promptings of the Spirit.