Today’s meditation is shared with us by Paula Hammond of St David’s, Craig y Don. Thanks, Paula!
Over the last few months we have all had to make many decisions. We are all shaped by our decisions and the decisions of others. Some have life-or death consequences, while others are less important. Decisions come in all shapes and sizes. Every day we face decisions about what to eat, whether to exercise, how to use our time.
Over the years these regular decisions generally become habits and we don’t think much about them. If we have guided these small decisions well from the start, we don’t really have to worry about them.
When we haven’t made good choices, however, even these small decisions can blossom into serious bad habits or an unhealthy lifestyle.
We also fairly regularly run into larger decisions that may have even bigger immediate or Long-term consequences. What we will study? Where we will live? Who will we marry? What church will we go to?
Then there are the moral choices we are faced with like will we allow ourselves to be pulled in by gossip & scaremongering. Will we turn a blind eye to someone in need of help?
Whatever type of decision we face there are biblical principles that can help us make better decisions. For example, when we recognise a bad habit or face a moral choice we can apply God’s command to always choose His way.
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
There are steps that can help with these decisions, and also with so many other decisions that don’t have an easy, right-or-wrong answer.
So, where does the Christian decision-making process start?
1. Direction from God. As Christians, our overall direction in life is determined by our commitment to God, and we must remember to ask Him to direct our lives.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
How does God direct us? Through the wisdom He gives us in the Bible and through wise biblical counsel from His servants. All of our decisions are to be in harmony with God’s laws and His plan.
We should pray for God’s guidance and study the Bible to see what it says about the decision we are facing. Many helpful principles are presented in the book of Proverbs, for example; it’s a book designed to teach us prudence and understanding and the wisdom to make good decisions (Proverbs 1:1-4). It all starts with understanding how much greater God is than we are.
As we study the Bible, we should act on what we learn. We should discard any choices that we discover would compromise with God’s laws.
Sometimes it is a simple matter to know what decision to make—simply because only one choice would allow us to obey God. But most of our decisions are not that clear-cut. Sometimes there are several good choices, and sometimes none of the choices are morally wrong.
The following can help us make wise decisions in these cases.
2. Define the problem or opportunity. When our problem seems fuzzy, it can be very difficult to come up with a solid solution. Sometimes it can be helpful to look at the problem from many angles in order to clearly define it.
What caused the problem to erupt at this time and in this way? Who is affected by it? If other people are involved in causing the problem, why? What do they get out of it?
If your decision is an opportunity, what exactly do you get by choosing it? What do you lose if you don’t choose it?
3. Dig out the relevant information. We have already discussed looking for the related passages in the Bible. We also need to search out the pertinent facts about the specific problem or opportunity.
Many search tools are available in our information age, and it can be helpful to explore everything from the library to the Internet. Look for reputable sources with relevant expertise. Be sure to put all the information you gather through the filters of fact checking and biblical truth.
The Bible advises, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).
Different people will likely have different information and different perspectives that can give you a broader understanding of the situation.
With all the facts in hand, you can begin brainstorming various options that could solve the problem or best deal with the opportunity.
4. Determine the alternatives. With all the facts in hand, you can begin brainstorming various options that could solve the problem or best deal with the opportunity.
Combining and concentrating on all the information gained from the previous steps should give us several possible choices.
Depending on the situation, it can be valuable to explore some outside-the-box solutions.
This is especially true when none of the obvious options seem that good.
Throwing around creative ideas and trying to see possible connections to seemingly unrelated fields can help you generate additional options.
Some of us might be tempted to cut short this stage in the interest of reaching closure as soon as possible.
This can be a problem if we don’t have enough options to pick a good one.
Others might be tempted to continue in this stage for too long, out of fear that the perfect solution will be missed. This, too, can be a problem if we put off a decision too long and perhaps miss the deadline.
At some point, we have to decide we have enough options and move on to step
5. Deliberate. Weigh the options. Make lists of pros and cons for each one. Weed out the worst ideas and carefully examine the best ones.
This is a principle that Jesus Christ advised His followers to apply: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it” (Luke 14:28).
Whether deciding to commit our lives to God in baptism or to remodel our kitchen, we need to count the cost and weigh the options.
Wise King Solomon also pointed out the importance of looking ahead to foresee the possible results of our decisions: “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3).
This process of deliberating, counting costs and foreseeing future dangers and opportunities should prepare us for the next step.
6. Decide. With all the research and preparation, this part should be easier. Another prayer for guidance and additional consultation with advisers can give us the confidence to make a wise choice.
7. Do. Take action. Don’t dillydally, but implement your decision decisively.
If we have followed these steps carefully and put the decision into practice diligently, we will likely be happy with the results.
God gives this encouragement to those who seek His will and follow His way: “‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
When we make a decision to follow God’s way and His law, we don’t have to look back.
But with a physical decision that isn’t a matter of right and wrong, We need to reassess the choice when necessary and adjust course. Doing so can be a good decision too.
Dear heavenly Father, you number our hairs and determine our days; you hang the stars and feed the sparrows; you open doors no one can shut and shut doors no one can open. Surely, we can trust you when the time comes for making big decisions, or for that matter, any decisions. We will trust you for generous wisdom, straight paths and peaceful hearts, all for your glory.
How we praise you for being the decision-making-God.
It’s not our decisions, but yours that make all the difference.
We will plan, but we trust you to order our steps.
We will pray, but ask you to fix our prayers en route to heaven.
We will seek counsel, but count on you to overrule faulty or incomplete input from our most trusted friends and mentors.
We will search the Scriptures, but not looking for proof texts but for you, Father. All we want and need is you.
Free us from the paralysis of analysis—wanting make the right decision, more than we want to be righteous people; wanting to be known as wise people, more than we want to know you.
Free us from the idolatry of assuming there’s only one “perfect” choice in any given situation.
Free us from making decisions primary for our comfort and other’s approval, or fear their disapproval.
Free us to know that good choices don’t always lead to the easiest outcomes, especially at first.
Free us from second and twenty-second guessing our decisions.
Father, no matter if it’s wisdom about buying or selling, vocation or vacation, this place or that place, this person or that person, we know that in ALL things, your will is our sanctification—our becoming more and more like Jesus.
Give us this passion; make it our delight. So, Father, make us more and more like Jesus, even as we trust you for the opening and closing of doors that are in front of us.
All for your glory. Amen