August 25, 2021
Pastor Scott Boerckel
How do you decide what to do?
For some, it’s a matter of what feels good at the moment. For others, it’s all about achieving goals. For still others, it’s about crafting the world into one’s own image. Even for believers, there seems to be quite a variety of ways that people make decisions.
Part of our church vital sign of Growing in Christ is about growing in decision making. Here is how we put it: “The obedient Christian will grow in decision making that is based on biblical principles rather than personal gratification.” Knowing how to make good decisions is often the difference between a life filled with blessing and a life filled with pain. There are choices that we can make that bring a lifetime of pain and trouble, and there are choices that we can make that bring a lifetime of blessing.
The primary way that people go wrong in decision making is to do whatever feels best at the moment. Living this way is what brings people to financial ruin, drug addictions, relationship dysfunction, and permanent damage. Unfortunately, we can make these kinds of decisions when we are quite young, and they can bring a lifetime of pain. Things like out of wedlock births, drug addiction, criminal conviction, or bankruptcy all can be traced to poor decision making. The professed believer in Christ is not immune from poor decision making. Sometimes people will say, “I don’t know what went wrong. I trusted Jesus as my Savior. Why is all this happening to me?”
Of course, not everything can be traced to poor decision making. The story of Job proves that. However, I am convinced that the inability of Christians, particularly young adult Christians, to make good decisions is the primary cause of unnecessary pain in their lives. Please know that I am NOT saying that there are no other reasons for pain. Sometimes, the pain is from the wrong decisions of others; sometimes, it is simply living in a sin cursed world. However, most of the pain in our lives is self-inflicted by the decisions that we make, even the decisions that we make in responding to evil that is visited upon us.
The sooner in life that we figure this out, the better off we will be. The blaming game, which seems everywhere these days, will not bring about human thriving. We can blame parents, ethnicity, schooling, neighborhood, economic status, and rotten things done to us, but that brings only bitterness and pain. Even where there are issues outside of us that bring pain, we can still make choices and decisions that will bring either our increased blessing or our increased pain.
So, how do we make wise decisions? Here are three ways:
Bring glory to King Jesus; get rid of King Self
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
“Your kingdom come; your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10
First, recognize that you are here to bring glory to King Jesus, not to yourself. You are not king of your universe; Jesus Christ is. If we just embraced that, all of life would be a life of thanksgiving and joy, even when horrible things happen. We are servants of the King! As servants, we accept His will and embrace His decrees. For example, when the King says, “This is the will of God . . . abstain from sexual immorality,” we don’t ignore, debate, or otherwise seek to minimize the demand of our King. We embrace His command. We don’t think, “Hmm, I wonder what the will of God is about this.” We already know it.
It is so easy to kingdom build for ourselves. We hardly realize that we are doing it. I know someone who sees everything in the world about how it affects him. Life is all about him, his world, his challenges, his triumphs. I feel sorry for him because he does not even know and cannot see that everything that he does, even in Christian service, is all about his kingdom, his world. But even though that is an extraordinary case, it is a cautionary tale for all of us. One way to improve our decision making is to ask, “What will serve King Jesus the best?” That is a far better question than, “What feels good to me?” When we live like this, we will discover that we cease being fault finding, arrogant, and holier than thou and instead live a life that exhibits grace to others.
Look to the wisdom books of the Bible
“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.” Proverbs 3:13
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.” Proverbs 4:7
There are 31 chapters to the book of Proverbs. If you want to become better at decision making, begin reading one chapter of Proverbs every day. That way, you will get through the book about once per month. Billy Graham did this for years, and I think that he was wiser for it.
Proverbs is a book that calls us to live a life of wisdom. Wisdom is personified as a beautiful woman who beckons us to become her friend. Make friends with wisdom, the Proverbs says, and you will gain wisdom in how and when to speak, how to tell the truth, how to avoid laziness, how to get your children to obey, how to control your anger, how to prevent evil people from hurting you, how to make the right kind of friends, how to say no to sexual temptation, how to build a good family, how to be wise, how to get rich, and how to have a long and fruitful life. If you doubt me on this, I challenge you to take up the “one chapter of Proverbs per day” prescription. Watch what making friends with this book of wisdom will do.
Make Friends (with the Holy Spirit and others)
“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22
“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man,” Proverbs 22:24
One sure way to make poor decisions is to make them without the consultation of others. However, it is not simply a matter of consultation. If you have unwise friends, they will lead you in unwise directions. If you have wise friends, they will lead you in wise directions. So, look for people who demonstrate with their lives the joy that comes from wise decision making. Seek both to imitate them and to ask them for help. In this regard, the importance of fellowship in God’s family is essential. You can find great wisdom in your Bible Fellowship or Small Group. It is in the living out of the “one anothers” of the Bible that a life of wisdom can be grown.
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 16:13
If we have salvation and eternal life by means of the Holy Spirit, it is essential that we keep in step with the Holy Spirit in everyday life. Make friends with the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to guide you, not in some mystical self-confirming way, but rather ask Him to take you to the right places in God’s Word, to convict you of sin and to equip you for life. The Bible promises that the sweet ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is to do just that. Again, this generally is not in some supernatural, mystical way, but rather by bringing the appropriate scriptures to bear upon the daily challenges of life. He is a powerful counselor and guide. He will never lead you away from the truth of the Bible. Instead, He will draw you to it because the Holy Spirit was the One Who bore men along as they wrote the Word of God.
How do you decide what to do? Hopefully, this article has given you a few more tools in your toolbox to equip you to grow in Christ. This vital sign of our church, “Growing in Christ,” is so important! Part of “Growing in Christ” is an increasing wisdom in decision making. May the Lord bless you as you seek to make decisions based on biblical principles rather than personal gratification.