Can you remember a time when you had to make a big decision, and you didn’t know for sure which was the right decision to make? How did you go about making that decision? What was your process?
How can we know what decision is best and most honoring to God? While we cannot know infallibly the answer to that question, here are some questions guided by the Bible that will help lead us to wise decisions.
Does any option violate a clear teaching in the Bible?
The only infallible record of God’s interactions with us that we have is His revelation to us in the Bible. If a particular option in our decision would violate the clear teaching of the Bible, we can be sure that it is not in God’s will for us. That doesn’t mean that if a particular option doesn’t violate Scripture that it is definitely the way to go, but we can know for sure that any choice that would cause us to disobey the Bible is a choice that must be off limits for us.
What do I want to do?
Sometimes we can fall into a pattern of thinking that makes us skeptical of any option that we have a strong desire to do, as though we cannot trust a particular option if it holds benefits for us. For sure, we need to be aware of any selfishness in our hearts that may be influencing our decisions but a decision isn’t wrong just because you benefit from it.
Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” If we are working to cultivate a heart that delights in God, in the gospel, in the things that are tied to God’s redemptive work in the world, then our desires will be pointed in the right direction.
What counsel do the pastors/elders at my church have?
This is a too often overlooked aspect of making decisions. Faithful, biblical shepherds keep watch over the souls of those in their church. They do not do so for money, they do not lord their position over the people in the church, their lives are exemplary, and they understand that their people are precious because they have been paid for by the precious blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They are skilled in studying, understanding, applying, and teaching the Bible and are supernaturally gifted by the Holy Spirit to bring the wisdom of the word to bear on people’s lives. [Side note: if the pastors/elders at your church are not like this…perhaps you should start looking for another church.]
Why on earth would we make decisions apart from their counsel? They are gifts to the church and are an immensely valuable resource in helping us think through the difficult decisions that we face.
Have I made this decision a matter of prayer?
The Bible repeatedly calls us to take our concerns to the Lord in prayer. Psalm 62:8 says, “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge!” Jesus tells the story of a widow who received what she needed because she constantly brought her request before the official in her town and told us that this is the way that we should pray. James says that if anyone lacks wisdom, they should ask God and expect to receive it.
We need to know that God cares for us, is a refuge for us, and desires to hear the issues weighing down our hearts. We need to know that God, who is good, will always answer the prayers of His children. We need to know that if we ask for wisdom, we will have it and can trust that what seems best to us, after we have sought God for wisdom, will be guided by that wisdom.
Answering these questions won’t absolutely guarantee that we will always make the right decision – there are always factors at work. But we can rest assure that these questions are guided by God’s word in the Bible and will give us confidence that our decisions will be in line with the will of the Lord.