Four steps to making godly decisions
Whether you're selecting your socks or choosing a career, good decisions make a difference.
There are lots of decisions that we make everyday, and for the purpose of thinking about guidance & God's Will, it will be helpful to put these decisions into three categories:
- Trivial decisions ... like what colour socks am I going to wear today? Or should I eat weet-bix for breakfast or porridge?
- Prudent decisions ... like should I choose history or geography? Or should I buy a Ford or a Holden?
- Righteous decisions ... like should I spread hateful gossip about someone on facebook? Or should I steal someone's car?
1. Work out which decisions are important
These three different categories all involve some important decisions, but some have a greater impact than others, particularly those decisions of Prudence and Righteousness.
Righteous decisions are usually a lot more straight forward to make, and although some are more complex, it's fair to say that most are black and white.
Prudent decisions on the other hand are much more grey... they involve the life choices that are not necessarily right or wrong in a moral sense, but are still decisions that may have important consequences for your life and direction.
2. Make choices that reflect God's purpose for your life
When thinking about guidance & God's Will, the inevitable question is: What is God's purpose for my life? There is often so much fluffing about over this question that people either end up "making" God say what they want to hear, or they end up just as confused and aimless as before... But the Bible has a clear answer! These are your purposes as a follower of Jesus:
- Romans 8:29 - This is God's eternal purpose for you if you are a Christian: He predestined you before you were born to be like his son Jesus.
- 2 Corinthians 3:18 - This is God's historical purpose for you: That right now he is transforming you into the image of his son Jesus.
- 1 John 3:2 - This is God's final purpose for you: That when Christ returns, you will be just like Jesus.
You probably spotted the theme... What is God's purpose and will for your life? You are to be like Jesus.
3. Ask 'what does Jesus value?'
And so the question to ask when you're trying to make prudent & righteous decisions is: What does Jesus value? Because if you know what Jesus values, then you'll make your decisions according to what he thinks is important.
So what does Jesus see as important? Well you really need to read through the gospels to find out, but you can summarise it in the two greatest commandments: Love God and love your neighbour (Mark 12:28-34). The gospels and the New Testament letters show you how Jesus and the first Christians applied this to their lives.
So it's usually not so hard to work out God's will and seek his guidance, when it comes to righteuos decisions. All you have to do is ask: how will this option serve Jesus and his kingdom values?
4. If there's more than one godly option, flip a coin
Here's a case study from the Bible to help illustrate the point. It's the story of how the disciples needed to find one more person to become a disciple. How would they make such a big decision? You might be surprised...
[Peter said] " ... one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us — one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:21-26)
Notice that this decision is not about right or wrong. Notice that they weigh up their options by deciding what will serve Jesus' Kingdom ("men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us"). And notice that they are presented with 2 equally good options. So what do they do? They do the ancient equivalent of flipping a coin or drawing straws. And they do this because they know that both options would serve Jesus well and that "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD." (Proverbs 16:33).
When you're faced with a prudent decision like choosing your subjects for school, like between History and Geography for example, then consider things that Jesus values. Things like: 'Ancient history will help me understand the context that the Bible was written in and help me to understand it and teach it better, or 'geography will give me the opportunity to understand the landscape of communities and society to help apply God's word'. And if you still can't decide and both options are consistent with Jesus' values, flip a coin.