Consider a sale on TV’s at Best Buy. When you look at the ad you see three kinds of TV’s on display for your purchase. One is a 36” Panasonic for $690, another 42-inch Toshiba for $850, and the final one is a 50-inch Philips for $1,480. Which one do you suppose Best buy is trying to sell the most?
If you chose the TV in the middle you are right. Most people will choose the middle TV, but why? Human nature dictates that people do not know what they want until they see it context. After all, most people really have no comparison between a Philips or Toshiba; but you put them next to each other, and wa-la, you have something to compare it too. Like lights on either side of the airport runway guiding the plane in for landing; the two TV sets, one on the high end and one on the low, guide you into purchasing the one in the middle.
This is how we make most of our decisions. We compare jobs with jobs, vacations with vacations, and churches with churches, boyfriends with boyfriends, etc.. But it goes a little deeper. Let’s say you are looking for a new church. You visit three churches and all three are good churches. The only difference between the three is one is traditional and the other two are contemporary. So we naturally compare the three churches. The traditional church was great, but you have nothing to compare it to (except say maybe from your grandmother’s church). So it goes to the wayside. Of the two contemporary you really like the music but in one you felt the people were not friendly. So which one do you choose? Most likely you will choose the church with the friendliness and the great music. What if all things were the same in the two contemporary churches? You’ll probably visit some more churches to make more comparisons!
A lot of our decision making is made by comparing similar things together. We like to have some reference point. If we don’t then we think it is wise to do more research.
So what does this mean spiritually? Simply put, the Bible tells us to do the wise thing and not the right thing. Proverbs 23:23 says, “Get wisdom.” We live in a culture that is constantly giving us choices so we are always comparing similar items to others trying to make the best decision. Most of the time we have many right choices to make, but which is the wise choice? What is the best comparison to make so you can make the wise decision?
I have a question got from another preacher concerning this issue, and place this relative quandary in its place. It focuses our decision making on the correct place to compare things. Here is the question, “In light of where you have been in the past, where you are right now, and where you want to be in the future, what is the wise thing to do?”
Take the TV’s for instance; instead of comparing the TV’s together you will be comparing them with your goals (and budget). By making the right comparison, with the goals you have set for your life or what you actually want to do with your money, you don’t compare the TV’s between each other. Rather, you enable yourself to make a better decision by comparing your personal goals with the TV purchase.