As the Lord would have it, as I sit and write this article about godly decision-making, I am agonizing over one of the most important decisions I have personally had to make in quite some time. It is a situation in which there is no clear right or wrong path, one which involves some real risk and uncertainty, and one which has implications potentially reaching far into the future. I must be transparent enough to share that, up until I began preparing to write this article, I was passively waiting for the right choice to simply fall into my lap, and not utilizing the biblical tools that I write about below to zero-in on the correct and godly choice. And, I believe, because the Lord loves me so much, He is having me work on this article right now, in my valley of decision, to remind me that He truly desires to show me which path to take and to see me make the right and wise decision. Perhaps you’re also standing at a fork in the road, and you need to hear from God just as much as I do. If not, you’re certainly sure to be facing a major decision of your own soon enough, so what better time for us to together refresh our knowledge of what God has to say through His Word about how we, as believers, can make right and wise decisions.
When it comes to making godly choices, we first need to make sure that we are operating under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and not defaulting to our old and flawed “before Christ” way of thinking. If you’re anything like me, that old thought-process went something like this, “That seems like a good decision”, “This looks like the easy thing to do”, “It just feels right”, and/or “I know this is wrong, but just this once is okay!” I can’t speak as to your life, but I know that nothing but failure and destruction has ever come in my own when using that old “stinking thinking” to make decisions.
The Bible tells us clearly that, as followers of Christ, we need to learn a new spiritual thought-process in order to discover God’s will for our lives. In Romans 12:2, the Bible says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” And, in Proverbs 3:5-6, we read, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” How encouraging to know that the Lord has a “good” and “perfect” will that He wants to reveal to us, and that He will be faithful to show us which path to take if we will simply be humble enough to seek Him and to listen.
As believers, the written Word of God is always our first and foremost source in which to find direction and truth. In Psalm 119:105, the Bible says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Our very first test in determining God’s will regarding a decision is to check to see if it is something that is explicitly commanded or prohibited in scripture. If it is, we need look no further. If God has already spoken specifically about something in the pages of His Word, then we can know His will about it with complete confidence and certainty. However, the truth that God’s Word will be a light to our path also holds true when it comes to more ambiguous “grey area” decisions, where the Bible doesn’t spell out the answer in black-and-white.
The beautiful thing about the Word of God is that, as we read in Hebrews 4:12, it is “living” and “active”, and “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Because we have God’s Spirit living within us, He is already there, ready and waiting to speak specifically to us! He will use a verse we have previously read one hundred times, or an Old Testament story we’ve been hearing for 20 years, to speak to us both powerfully and practically about His will for a specific situation in our own lives, right here, right now! I have both experienced this personally, as well as heard countless stories from others of how God has used his Word to illuminate His will for a specific decision through the powerful, living words of the Bible.
Another valuable tool that God has provided for us to help us decide rightly is the godly counsel of our friends, family, and spiritual leaders. Proverbs 15:22 tells us: “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; [but] many advisers bring success.” I don’t know about you, but I can convince myself that just about any decision is right, given enough time to justify it! The problem with sinful man is that we have our own predispositions, emotions, and fleshly desires that cloud our judgment. After all, doesn’t the Bible tell us in Jeremiah 17:9 that, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” I can tell you from firsthand experience that the outside perspective of godly people who love us and have our best interests in mind is an invaluable asset when it comes to making important decisions. There have been times when I was thoroughly convinced within my own mind and heart that a particular choice was the right one, only to be saved from certain failure and embarrassment through the wise counsel a friend or family member with more experience, wisdom, or an simply an objective point-of-view.
The Lord created us to be in relationship and community with other like-minded believers, in part because He knows how desperately we need each other’s wisdom and counsel. This doesn’t mean that being told that our thinking is wrong or skewed is always comfortable or easy; as a matter of fact, it’s usually just the opposite. The word-picture the Bible gives us of this is found in Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” However, if we can be willing to see some sparks fly, we will usually look back with gratitude that our brother or sister in the Lord did the hard thing, spoke truth into our lives, and saved us from making a very poor choice.
Finally, the Lord confirms to us that we are making a right decision by giving us a peace in our heart; or, better yet, a peace in our spirit. Our bodies can be tainted by fleshly desires, and our souls (or hearts) can be clouded by emotions, but our spirits have the awesome opportunity to be connected to God’s Holy Spirit, and to tap into His supernatural wisdom and reassuring peace. In my own life, I’ve found that this comes through times of prayer and worship. I think we often have a wrong concept that prayer is a one-way communication from us to God. While our communication towards the Lord is certainly a vital component of prayer, sitting still and listening to the Lord speak back to us is equally as important. It’s been well-said that God is always speaking, and that the problem is that we simply are not listening! Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
When we take our decisions to God in prayer, His Word tells us that He will be faithful to speak His will back to us, and to give us His true peace that we are making the right choice.
So, whether it’s through digging into the pages of God’s Word, stepping out of your comfort zone to seek some godly counsel, or by tapping into God’s Spirit through a time of intimate communication with Him, James 4:8 promises us that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. He loves each of us perfectly, and wants to see us make wise decisions that will lead us into a deeper relationship with Him. I love what God says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”. Let’s together tap into God’s wisdom for our lives, and I think we will be pleasantly surprised at how faithful our Father is to “lead [us] in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake!” (Psalms 23:3, NKJV).