Recently at the commencement of a strategic prayer assignment in the Middle East, that I led, I outlined the difference between preferences-opinions, values and principles in the hope that people would allow the Holy Spirit to reshape their opinions and values based upon revealed principles as we travelled the nation of Israel on our Jerusalem Highway Prayer Journey. I summarised them to my group as follows:
Opinions are preferences we come to based upon feelings, facts or unconscious life and environmental conditioning. They are highly subjective; intuitive and emotional. They can produce appropriate responses, but rarely do they produce informative positions unless shaped by more rational input.
Values are codified personal preferences. They can claim to be ‘right’ or virtuous, even shared by others, but should never be forced onto others. They are in the category of subjectivity even if they are godly, well-intentioned values. We all have them, they are subjective, preferences either held consciously or unconsciously. Also, they can’t claim universal status.
On the other hand principles create logical and empirical results. They are governed by some objective evidence and operate in the realm of logic as well as social behaviour and social constructs.
For the Christian Believer the Old and New Testaments are records of God’s principles; therefore not based on opinions or values. As we avail ourselves to this body of logic and submit ourselves to it, God’s principles are manifested to us daily; this manifestation, illumination of truth, is an important activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Believer
Therefore, before entering a period of uncertainty, crisis or challenge, one needs to have a firm grasp of how to discern rising realities, like change, challengers and difficult circumstances that require clear and concise decisions. In such times, it’s not a time for debate, rather it is here that the man or woman of principle shines and becomes the ‘go-to’ person so others don’t loose heart or loose their way. Therefore, in the cool calm light of day, it’s essential that we know before hand where we stand and how we will act should the need arise.
Sound decision making is always principle based, not just build on opinions or values.