How to Make Decisions

We all have to make decisions; sometimes they seem irrelevant and sometimes they seem really important.  The truth is, God cares about everything we do, be it what we eat, where we go, how we entertain ourselves, and how we manage our finances.  Many times when faced with two options, neither one may be a sin but one choice is usually better than the other. 
This is article is going to be simple and practical.  By operating by these principles, each and every decision can be more along the lines of what God wants us to do.  No one is going to “bat-a-thousand”, but if you can improve in the small areas the entirety of your life will no doubt be more in line with what God wants out of you.
Many young people stress out about what God wants them to do with their entire life.  In the examples given in the Bible, people were already busy working in smaller areas before God called them to the greater tasks.  Gideon was threshing wheat, Saul was obeying his father’s command to find the lost donkeys, and Peter and Andrew were busing fishing as part of their livelihood.  God wants us busy today doing what He wants us to do today, and to let Him worry about the future.

Getting Pre-Qualified

There are about five good question you should ask yourself before making a decision. But before asking yourself these questions, it’s important that you’re pre-qualified to ask them, and that requires three things:
1. You’re in the will of God.
I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Are you operating within the known will of God?  There are several things that should be obvious.  Are you entangled with a sin or a vice?  If so, your primary focus should be getting that right.  Ask for forgiveness today and put it behind you.  Are you under the authority of a local church?  God wants you to be!  Get that straightened out between you and God as well.  Is there someone you should forgive or reconcile with?  Get these clear cut things taken care of first!

2. You’re habitually reading your Bible.
Ps. 119:140, “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.”
Scores and scores of Christians have testified to having read in the Bible exactly what they needed for that day.  Say you’re planning on giving someone a piece of your mind that day, but you read “…a soft answer turneth away wrath…”

3. You’re habitually praying.  
Luke 18:1, “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;”
Prayer is a huge difference maker.  How are you to have a relationship with someone that you never talk to?  For God to lead and direct us we need to be in prayer with Him each day, it needs to be a priority.

The Five Questions

Once you’ve gotten those things established, then when faced with a decision you’re much better able to answer these following questions correctly.  You can try to answer these questions when you’re out of the will or God, or not reading your Bible, or not praying, but your answer is very likely to be skewed and incorrect. 

1. What does the Bible say?

Is. 8:20, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
When making a decision, what does the Bible say in reference to it?  Don’t automatically assume the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about what you’re about to do!  Say you’re about to tell a “white lie” to cover your backside or avoid an uncomfortable situation – does the Bible have anything to say about that?  Say you’re about to whip out that credit card because you don’t have the money for something – does the Bible have something to say about that?  Music, recreation, time management - there isn't a single area of life that the Bible doesn’t have something to say about it one way or another!    

2. What does the law say?

Rom. 13:3-4, "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4) For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."
Are you about to do something illegal?  Laws and governments are things that were ordained by God to keep us in check.  According to the above passage that police officer is a minister of God, and should be treated with honor and respect.  Yes, we ought to obey God rather than man, but God set up the government and unless it tells you to do something that is blatantly against Scripture you are to obey it.  Christians cheat on their taxes and break copyright laws all the time without giving it a second thought.  It’s sin to break the law!

3. What does wise counsel say?
Pr. 24:6, "For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety."
It is possible to get a quirky idea now and then and twist a scripture out of context to support it.  That’s why it’s important to consult wise counsel before getting hasty and making major decisions.  This is one of the biggest reasons why God wants us to be faithful in a local church.  We are to bear each other’s burdens and help each other out.  Every Christian should have some “older-wisers” that they consult from time to time when making a decision.  The only exception would be if you’re as old as they get and there are no “older-wisers” for you…

4. What does the Holy Spirit say?
John 14:26, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
The Holy Spirit indwells us upon salvation and seeks to lead us according to His will.  The Holy Spirit will not violate Scripture, and the Holy Spirit always seeks to glorify Jesus Christ and not Himself.  Because it can be easy to confuse the Spirit’s leading with our own imagination, God instructs us to yield to the Scriptures and the wise counsel of our leaders as well.

5. What does your pastor say?

Heb. 13:17, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."
You are to be in a church, under the authority of a pastor.  There is no allowance in scripture for going rogue and claiming to be only under the “authority of God”.  The redundant New Testament pattern is for Christians to be under the authority of a church and pastor, and to obey them.  Just as the Holy Spirit will not violate Scripture and not seek to glorify Himself, so a good pastor will not as well.  A good pastor will love the sheep and want to take care of them.  He is your friend and wants to help you, when you have a tough decision consult him about it.


JTR said...

Excellent article. Again, written with clarity and humor - thanks for posting! God's will is there if we will look for it. Problem is, we usually think about it after decisions have been made, and aren't working out like we planned!

Rick Schworer said...

Thanks for the encouraging words, brother!