By Elizabeth Prata
Does the Bible speak to whom we should marry? Which college to attend? Whether to join the Army? Should we relocate to another state? Change careers now, later, or never? Go back to college?
Christian decision-making … I’m often asked these very questions by women who care about being obedient to the will of God. But the Christian culture of the last generation has introduced a mysticism to decision-making (and to Christian life in general) that unfortunately includes waiting for personalized whispers, looking for signs, or other extra-biblical methods that will guide them along in deciding things that aren’t directly in the Bible.
Now this kind of thinking is totally at odds with the principle of Sola Scriptura. We believe as Protestants don’t we, that the written Word of God – the Bible – contains everything necessary for our salvation and our growth in grace. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…listen to the next phrase…that the man of God may be PERFECT, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Scripture alone is able to equip us thoroughly, perfectly for all good works. Everything we need in the process of our sanctification. There is no need for extrabiblical revelation. The Bible will equip you for all good works. It will give you all the explicit guidance you can possibly get from God. It contains principles to help you be wise and discerning as you pursue the course of your life, and beyond that we simply trust God in His providence to order our steps. You don’t need an explicit message from God telling you whom to marry, or where to go to school, or where to go to the mission field. [italics mine]
So how should we approach making decisions?
I found this .pdf on How To Make Wise Decisions (Titus 3:12-13) from Crossroads Church in Daytona Beach (Formerly Daytona Beach Baptist Church) to be extremely to the point and helpful.
Any precursor to decision making would assume first that one is saved. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. (John 15:5). Secondly it assumes that the thing you’re undecided about does not involve sin. We never decide toward sin, we flee from sin. ( 2 Timothy 2:22; Genesis 39:12). Thirdly, it assumes that you’re relying completely on God’s word. If the item you’re trying to decide about is directly in the Bible, follow that command. “Should I submit to my husband?” isn’t really a decision to ponder, because it is already commanded.
Fourthly, the decision-making process assumes that, as the pamphlet from Crossroads says, you’ve yielded yourself to the Spirit of Christ within you. You’re striving, repenting, obeying, praying, etc. You’re as much as a clean plate as you can be, being a sinner, lol.
Now, how to decide those things which are not directly addressed in God’s word?
As from the Crossroad Church pamphlet,
Here are four questions to ask yourself:
• Have I yielded myself completely to Christ’s Spirit?
• Is there a clear Bible command concerning this decision?
• Is there a Bible principle that will guide me in this decision?
• Which choice would be most prudent in this situation?
The above are fleshed out more with scriptures, at the website. Here is the link again.
Did you know that You Are Part of a Grand Plan? It’s not like you can mess it up. If you make this decision or that decision, it isn’t going to surprise God, or alter what He has planned for you. Providence, as mentioned above by Phil Johnson, is secure. His plan will be fulfilled, and your decision making isn’t going to change it. You aren’t going to miss out on anything. Beyond what is specifically prescribed in the Bible, and “we simply trust God in His providence to order our steps” as Pastor Johnson explained.
In my own life, I moved from Maine to Georgia. I wanted a place with lower cost of living, and warmer weather. That’s it. He would have worked it out of I’d chosen Texas or North Carolina. Deciding on Georgia wasnt’ a life-or death decision, just one that fit my life and made sense.
When I got to GA I applied for a number of jobs. I applied using common sense. What did I have experience in, was trained for, and was good at? It’s not like I consulted the Lord and waited for a sign or anything. I was following the biblical principle that he who does not work does not eat. I sought jobs I thought I had the best chance of getting and sustaining my means.
Some jobs I applied for were at the University in the journalism department, some with local magazines. The one I got (in His providential care) was for the Athens Banner Herald writing feature stories of people in my county as a freelancer. Later when I decided to go back to education – subbing at first and applying for parapro jobs, I didn’t consult the Lord. I just used common sense. The freelance job simply wasn’t paying enough. A job with the County Education system would:
-fairly secure as jobs go (education is the largest employer in the county)
-had health benefits (I was soon to be 50)
-was what I was trained for. (formerly certified teacher with Masters degree)
-I’d be working with kids (something I love and I’m good at).
If I’d decided to get a job as a bungee jumper trainer, lol, that would not be common sense. In His providence He’d likely shut the door to any nonsensical decisions.
I knew the Lord would work it out. In His providence He did not ordain that I was given the first job I’d interviewed for as a parapro at another school, but a year later I got a job at the school I’m at now, a great fit. I’ve been there 11 years, 9 as a parapro. It’s not like there is only ONE decision or only ONE path.
I’ll conclude with Phil Johnson–
If your life is in harmony with all the commands and principles of the Bible, you can actually do what you want to do without beating yourself up with introspection and fretting over whether God told you to do something or not. When Scripture says He orders our steps it’s talking about His guidance through His hand of providence. We step out in faith, and He guides our steps.