Love God. When well-meaning people give you advice, weigh it against this principle. “Is this thing other people want me to do (such as my church or Christian friends) overkill or irrelevant to my love relationship with God?” Or on the flip side, “Is this person influencing me away from my pure devotion to God or encouraging me to compromise my obedience?”

Consider abusive or addicted spouses. They can actually prevent you from following this command. Your mental and emotional state can become so preoccupied with surviving your home life that you’re not honoring or growing in Christ. As soon another person is allowed to dominate our focus and devotion, even with negative energy, that person has become an idol or spiritual adultery.

Love People. Will this decision hurt anyone? Will it pull them down in their faith or will it draw them to God? This can be tricky when holding it up to closely related addicts or abusers, because on the surface you might feel (and they might tell you) that if you set a boundary with them, you’re going to shatter their faith. Or you might feel if you enforce a consequence, they’ll feel unloved and won’t want to change. Often times, the truth is the opposite. By staying, you are making it easy for them to remain unchanged. Their lives are in a comfortable pattern, their addictions and behaviors have no consequences, and you’re sending the message that the world revolves around them. Why would they need God when you are fixing all their problems? So actually, maybe your choices have not truly loved that person the way they need to be loved.

Having said that, each situation is unique and should be handled accordingly. One person living with an addict may be thriving and still able to grow in their love relationship with God while another may be so mistreated, controlled, and beaten down; they can only think “survival.”

Motives. When you’ve held your decisions up to the two criteria, and you’re still not sure, a great gauge is to question your motives. For instance, say you want to get a tattoo, but you just can’t decide if it’s okay with God. The next question to ask then is, “Why do I want this tattoo?” Is it to draw attention to yourself? Is it to fit in with a certain youth ministry God has given you? No one but you can answer these kinds of questions, because only you truly know what is in your heart.

And now, as you begin to embrace the “law of love” and ditch the “love of law,” you’ll always carry around a simple standard to help you discern and understand just what Jesus would do in your situation.

Julie Ferwerda is the author of The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love, and has written for publications such as Marriage Partnership, Focus on the Family, and Discipleship Journal. Find out more:  www.JulieFerwerda.com.