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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Decision-Making & God's Will, Part 5

(Previous articles in the series:  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4
Last time, we covered some presuppositions and principles necessary for taking a biblical approach to decision-making.  This time we will propose a process for decision-making.
When faced with an important decision the first thing we should do is pray for wisdom. James 1:5 reads, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. Manifold similar exhortations as well as the existence of wisdom literature in Scripture indicate that when we have decisions to make, we are not expected to wait for God to dictate the “right” path, but we are make decisions based upon wisdom.  So we should pray for that wisdom.
Second, we should gather all the information necessary to make a wise decision. Proverbs 18:13 teaches that it is foolish and shameful to make a conclusion without having all the information. So we should do the necessary homework to investigate our options. For example, if a man is deciding whether or not to take a job in another city, he should determine as best he can the ramifications of the move. Are there good churches and schools there? What is the cost of living compared to where he is now? What benefits are there to moving? What detriments?
Third, we should study all the direct proclamations in Scripture concerning the particular issue. Are there any positive commands or negative prohibitions that directly relate to the decision? For instance, if a woman receives a marriage proposal from an unbeliever, a look at Scripture would reveal that it would not be biblical for her to accept (1 Cor 7:12-16,39). Scripture addresses the issue directly.
Fourth, we should study any principles in Scripture that would apply to the decision.  Let’s say that a man has been given an opportunity to go into business with a successful businessman, but the man is not a Christian.  To my knowledge, there are no passages in Scripture that give a direct command that would pertain, like “don’t go into business with an unbeliever.”  However, 2 Corinthians 6:14 does say, Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? This verse yields the principle that it is inappropriate for believers to enter close partnerships with unbelievers. While there is no direct command regarding going into business with an unbeliever, there is a principle that applies.
Fifth, we should weigh the purposeful use of freedom.  The following questions may help us to think through the issue:
Is there anything wrong with this activity?  Is it lawful?
Is it self-serving at the expense of someone else?  (Rom 15:1-2; 1 Cor 10:33; Gal 5:13; Phil. 2:1-4)
Is this something for which I can thank God? (Rom 14:6; 1 Cor 10:30; Col 3:17)
Is this something that will glorify God? (1 Cor 10:31; 2 Cor 5:9)
Is this following the example of Christ? (Rom 15:7-8; 1 Cor 11:1; 1 John 2:6)
Will my choice affect others around me?  If so, in what way?
Is it beneficial?  Does it promote my spiritual life?
Is it a practice that over time will tend to master me?  Will it stimulate a desire that will be difficult to control?
Is this an occasion where my flesh is seeking to indulge itself? (Gal 5:13)
Is it loving to others?  Will it promote the spiritual well-being of other believers if they engage in this practice that is permissible for me?
The answers to these questions should lead us to a conclusion regarding whether or not a particular course of action is wise.  If it is not wise, we should choose another path.
Next time, we’ll look at a few unreliable and unwise methods of decision-making.  Until then, consider taking the proposed method above and applying it to a decision currently before you. 

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