Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. (Proverbs 21:2–3—NIV)

There have always been many "wise sayings" circulating in the general culture. Most are rather benign. They carry an air of "tried-and-true" wisdom and those individuals found repeating them seem to have developed sturdy guidelines for living.

One current saying is most often repeated when decisions are being made. It runs something like this, "It is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission." The circumstance of the decision is usually where one’s course of action will meet with the disapproval of a superior.

My purpose is not to address the Christian’s response when human authority contradicts God’s righteous standard, in which case God’s standard must prevail. That type of circumstance rarely elicits the "wise-saying" quoted above. The saying tends to be trotted out on the spur of the moment to excuse a willful choice.

Our Bible text deals with every decision of man. There are several inescapable principles laid down for all of us. As usual, where godly principles are found accountability follows.

The Judge of all human choices is God. Men make choices which may be commendable or condemnable in the eyes of other men. To the decision-maker, the choice must have made good sense in his own eyes. However, the final voice heard is God’s. He weighs the heart. This would indicate that the motive, the thinking process, the decision, the course of action chosen, as well as the outcome, all together parade before His review. A sort of heavenly "sunshine law" is in force.

We also learn what God says about the poor ethical standard which seems to place a virtue on a brand of insincere "repentance" and belittles the role of permission-giving authority. God tells us that authority is established by God, inclusive of parental authority. The standards of righteousness and justice are unswervingly established by the very character and nature of God Himself. He cannot approve of such an ethical standard as the saying propounds.

Finally, the ethical standard of asking permission is in keeping with God’s Word which indicates that He values obedience rather than sacrifice as 1 Samuel 15:22 and Micah 6:6–8 teaches. King Saul lost his kingdom over a similar decision process.

The next time you are faced with a decision be sure to pursue what God would have you do.