Paint by Numbers or Create a Masterpiece

Given the choice between guiding and directing I would choose to direct but to paraphrase Blaise Pascal, “it is better for people to figure it out themselves.”[1] It occurs to me that people are not necessarily opposed to being directed but that directing does not mean as much and is not as transformational to them long term as if they were guided to the truth. This is the difference between paint but numbers and an open canvas. You could theoretically produce the same result but only one is truly art.

If we look at anything from cheating on a test to cheating on a spouse the reasons are usually based of should or shouldn’t. We do not cheat on our spouses because it is wrong, we do not steal money because we should think about the consequences, or whatever other situation you can think of. The reasons are measured by weight and whichever is heavier is the winner. This leads us to compromising situations because as the holder of the scales we can make adjustments to fit our desire.

We should think about right and wrong. The Bible is solid on this matter and we are told we have God’s law written on our hearts (Rom 2:15). There is a clear right and wrong in most situations so there is a matter of right and wrong to consider. However, if the desire to please God, living of a life of faith and obedience is not at the forefront of hearts and minds then weighing right and wrong will do little good because it is the same as directing. We can be led to a place that we do not necessarily want to be because the choice to go there was not ours.

The question that needs to be settled before we look at right and wrong is do I have a desire to please God and live a life of faith, love, and obedience? Do I at my very core want to live in fellowship with my God and those around me? When we first look to fulfill the royal law of love we do not have to weigh other choices most of the time. We could think that yes it would be easy to XXX but I don’t want to because I want to show love to my God. The answer to the one question removes the need to even worry about other questions. If you have decided in your heart that you want to show your spouse extravagant love then you do not need to answer the question of cheating because you have answered a higher question. If you decided that you want to learn and know the information from school then you do not need to answer the question of cheating on a test because that would violate the first answer.

Often times we get ourselves into trouble because we are asking and answering the wrong questions much like looking at symptoms instead of the cause. When we decide to get deep and go the core of a situation we avoid so much unnecessary heartache and unneeded battles. If we can get to the point where like Joshua we say “as for me and my house we will serve the LORD” then we do not have to wonder whom we serve or what we will do. The choice you make to start with determines whether you are painting your life as a masterpiece or just going through the process like a paint by numbers. My suggestion – Paint a masterpiece.

Just a thought,



[1] The proper quote from Blaise Pascal is “we are generally more effectually persuaded by reasons we have ourselves discovered than by those which have occurred to others.”