What does the Bible say about decision-making?
Decision-making is a difficult task. We live in a confusing, chaotic world filled with seemingly endless choices and possibilities. There are certain decisions that we recognize as big, such as whom to marry, what profession to choose, or where to live. Much to our chagrin, the Scriptures do not answer these questions for us in specific detail (Deuteronomy 29:29). However, God does give us principles to help guide us. For example, whereas we are not told exactly whom to marry, we are commanded to marry only in the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14). Whereas we are not told exactly what profession to practice, we are commanded to work and do so honestly (Ephesians 4:28). Whereas we are not told exactly where to live, we are advised to keep Christian fellowship wherever we live (Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Hebrews 10:24-25; Acts 2:42).
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Many of our decisions can be easily reduced by considering whether or not the decision would be sinful. Scripture makes clear that certain behaviors are sinful and therefore displeasing to God. The list of such actions is long and includes, among others: sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3), drunkenness (Galatians 5:20-21), violence (Proverbs 3:31), theft (Ephesians 4:28), lying (Colossians 3:9), cursing (James 3:10), and taking the Lord's name in vain (1 Timothy 1:13). Any decision that involves these behaviors is prohibited. On the contrary, the Scriptures clearly approve of and even command certain other behaviors, making the question of whether we should decide to do them easy. Uncontroversial decisions include decisions to: pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4), give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18), study the word (2 Timothy 2:15), and assemble with other believers (Hebrews 10:25). However, Christianity cannot be reduced to a list of dos and don'ts.
In order to make truly godly decisions we must come to know and love God for who He is. We can only come to know God by knowing and believing in His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). After receiving Christ, the main business of the Christian life is sanctification, to grow into the likeness of Christ. As we seek to become more like Christ, our desires will be sanctified. As we meditate on the word of God, our minds will be transformed (Romans 12:2). In the end, our decisions are determined by what we desire most. As our desires change, our decisions will follow suit. Ultimately, our greatest desire ought to be for God Himself.
Psalm 42:1-2 says, "As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" In Philippians 3:8 Paul wrote, "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ."
The love of God should be the motive behind every decision we make (Matthew 22:37). The glory of God should be the end or result of every decision we make (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Finally, some practical considerations to keep in mind when making decisions include praying for wisdom (James 1:5), seeking godly counsel (Proverbs 11:14), considering the needs of others (1 John 3:17), and considering your gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7).
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