How to Make a Decision Biblically
How to Make a Decision Biblically
General Life Advice Article #2
It’s still fresh in my mind: the season when I vigorously wrestled with the question, “Should I leave my job?” At the time, what I was considering was not only leaving my secular job as a medical doctor; I was also considering leaving my full-time secular career in order to pursue my calling. What was particularly challenging about this inquiry was that on the surface, there was neither a “right” nor a “wrong” answer. It was obvious that I was not deciding on virtue versus vice, I was deciding between two morally neutral options. Furthermore, struggling with such a question and earnestly seeking an answer causes severe soul distress, and I intently searched the Scriptures for an answer. What I honestly wanted to happen was an “Aha!” moment while reading the Bible. What I honestly wanted to happen was for God’s Word to tell me specifically what to do so that I would have the peace of mind of knowing that what I was doing was God’s will. As I’m sure you already know, that’s not how the Bible works. In His inspired Word, the Lord has seen it fit not to give specific directions to specific people. Rather, He provides principles sufficient for all of life to all of His elect; these principles apply to everyone, everywhere, all the time. Cognizant of this, I felt compelled to make a choice but was unsure how to go about making it in a godly way. This is a challenge that most Christians will encounter at some point in their life. This begs the question: How do you make a decision biblically?
How to Make a Decision Biblically, Step #1: Meditate on the Scriptures
Certainly, the thing you do not want to do is withdraw inward to yourself and rely on your own counsel. Doing that would be a marvelous first step toward making a worldly decision. However, in order to make a biblical decision, one must start with the Bible and meditate on the Scriptures. (This especially applies to decisions that seem so right to us right now, but note that the end of joy may be grief; cf Proverbs 14:12-14, 16:25.) Meditating on the Scriptures means more than just reading the Scriptures in order to get an answer so that you can move forward without God. Meditating involves a sense of humility where the person understands that their ability to make a proper decision is limited by their finite minds, their sinfulness and their lack of knowledge of the future. (This leads them also to seek God’s help in prayer and specifically ask Him for clarity on the question at hand.) Accordingly, a person meditates on God’s counsel in order to know and then live out the principles that God has revealed. As it says in Psalm 1:1-3, the person who meditates on the Scriptures is not only blessed, but they who delight in God’s Word are abundantly fruitful. This person is prosperous as a function of their faithful engagement with divine wisdom in the Word. The person who loves wisdom loves life; the person who despises God’s wisdom loves death (Proverbs 8:36).
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a person who listens to advice is wise. (Proverbs 12:15)
The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, but the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded. (13:13)
So, when it came to my question as to whether I should leave my job, what the Scriptures told me was that, biblically speaking, there is nothing either righteous or sinful about moving from one job to another. But what God has called all human beings to do is to work (which doesn’t necessarily mean a “job”; Genesis 2:15; Proverbs 16:3; Colossians 3:23; II Thessalonians 3:10), and the reason why a person works is for the glory of the Lord (I Corinthians 10:31).
How to Make a Decision Biblically, Step #2: Decide knowing that who you are is more important than what you do
Next, I thought to myself, “I know what I’ll do to get a specific answer … I’ll read the whole Book of Proverbs in one shot. After all, what I need is wisdom, so I’ll read the book that provides practical wisdom and shows people how to deal with the art of living.” What I quickly discovered is that making wise choices has little to do with what you know; it is grounded in who you are and in whether you live life solidly with a fear (reverence) of God (Proverbs 1:7).
Accordingly, if you read Proverbs for yourself, what will become evident very quickly is that the book almost never tells you what to do! What it does speak on repeatedly is that if you submit to God, He is the One who will guide you. A person who lives in reverence of the Lord often may not know what to do, but that’s perfectly okay, because God is the One who leads them and makes their paths straight (3:5-6).
It is then that the wisdom of Proverbs taught me that part of the reason why I was looking to leave my secular job was because I was discontented. I was discontented because I labored for the wrong reasons (not for love of God and neighbor) and, as a result, ended up dissatisfied and spiritually poor.
Poor is one who works with a lazy hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. (Proverbs 10:4)
What this all boils down to is simple: who are you? In what way will you serve and glorify God more in deciding to do this thing over the other thing? Decide in the knowledge that who you are (one who lives in reverence of God) and why you do it is more important than what you do (reasoning, rationalizing, weighing options and then choosing one over the other).
For me, what I began to realize is that I could change jobs from now until the end of time, but who signed my paycheck was not the root of the problem of my restlessness: it was me. The real decision therefore was, “Who am I really serving?” “Who am I living in fear of?” “Who am I really working for?”
How to Make a Decision Biblically, Step #3: Act knowing that you can never supplant God
The last step isn’t a step at all but more of a promise of comfort and assurance. The beauty of living in a world governed by a sovereign God is that there are no rogue elements in a reality that is 100% under His authority. Meaning, it is impossible for anyone to ever do anything that falls outside of what God either causes, ordains or allows. This tells you that whatever you decide, you can never choose something that usurps God from the throne. Even if it is your “Plan B,” God still reigns.
The mind of a person plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. (16:33)
Many plans are in a person’s heart, but the advice of the Lord will stand. (19:21)
A man’s steps are ordained by the Lord; how then can a person understand his way? (20:24)
Of course, this counsel neither encourages sin nor gives license for anyone to feel at liberty to act outside of God’s expressed will. What these verses do is comfort us with the reassurance that whether you decide to go left or right, God’s dominion does not change.
Consequently, when you put all of the steps together, what is evident is that making a decision biblically means keeping God in mind first and foremost in all things.
As I am sure you can imagine, there is much more to be said about the practical steps a person can take to make a biblical decision. So, if you are struggling with a decision and are seeking more detailed and personalized counsel on how to choose biblically, you have the option of speaking with a WiseWord biblical counselor.
Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal