How to Make a Decision Joel 3:14 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
We realize that this verse applies doctrinally to the 2nd Advent. However, it brings us to the point of this sermon which is how to make a decision. I am asked consistently in the ministry, “What do I do?” Multitudes of Christians find themselves in the valley of decision and some are careful while they are there to make the right decision. Many miss the right decision because they don’t know how to make a decision. To make a decision, you must consider all of the following:
What does the Bible say? You cannot make the right decisions in life without taking into consideration what God has to say specifically about the subject. You will not need to consider anything else in this list if God speaks clearly against the decision you are making. For instance, God is very clear about relationships. He does not want a saved person dating an unsaved person. So, if you are dating an unsaved person hoping to bring him or her to the Lord so that you can marry, forget it. Quit dating and just go to work on that person’s soul. And if you cannot manage your lust and emotions, let somebody else preach to them.
What do your related counselors say? Related counselors are the people to whom you are related who can give you wise counsel on a matter. These are people like your parents, your spouse, perhaps a godly brother or sister, etc. These are the folks who know you the best. Now if they are afraid to tell you the truth or if you have a tendency to scorn their judgment, then you are going to miss the benefit of their counsel and what they say may actually work against you. For instance, parents who have done battle with their children may give in on a decision you are making, leading you to believe that they approve, when in fact they are adamantly opposed but refuse to “fight.”
What do your other counselors say? Other counselors are people like your pastor and other concerned people who have a proven record of wise counsel and who speak “as the oracles of God.” These folks know how to pray while you are speaking and know just the right questions to ask before giving counsel. For instance, you might find affirmation in the Bible and your spouse may agree, but another counselor who is unaffected by your decision will be able to give you unbiased counsel. I have often seen instances where a person was so determined to decide in accordance with his own will that he read things into the Bible that weren’t there and persuaded his related counselors to go along with him. An “outsider” will not be affected by your will and can speak freely and unemotionally about things you haven’t even considered.
What does the peace of God say? I believe that the peace of God that passeth all understanding [Phil 4:6-7] is an essential element in making the right decision and more importantly in making the right decision at the right time. For instance, our church knew that building a new building was the right decision. But until we knew the peace of God we didn’t begin; we held off. And the timing could not have been better than when we finally started. But let me add that God’s peace is not the sole or even the strongest determining factor in making decisions. I have seen more foolish decisions based on, “I could feel the peace” than you can imagine.
What does practical wisdom say? Christians are very prone to believe that, in spiritual matters, practical wisdom is of no value or that it might actually be of contrary value. And so, many Christians never even consider the practical aspects of decisions they have been praying about. They simply pray, read a little Bible, find a verse and then “go.” Let me say, unequivocally, that you must take practical wisdom into consideration. For instance, we have a family in our church going to the mission field. After being called to go they were ready to take off. But practically speaking there were at least a dozen practical things that needed to be addressed before they could even think about going. At first, it seemed to them unreasonable to consider these things. In retrospect, they know now that without considering practical wisdom they probably would have gotten to the field and returned. [Note: this message is being rebroadcast. This family returned from the field. Some of the practical things we discussed were factors in their return]. If what you are trying to decide doesn’t make sense then it doesn’t make sense to press the Bible, God and your counselors into the decision to try to make sense out of it. Just forget it.
What does your heart say? This is where you check your motive. Now you understand that your heart is deceitful above all things. So, why would you follow your heart? Certainly, desire is something to consider in making decisions. Paul said, “If a man desire the office of a bishop…” But desire is not what puts a man in the ministry. Desire just gets him interested. There is the call, the preparation, the enabling, the trust, the commitment and all that other stuff. So, just because your heart tells you to do something is no reason to go do it. As a matter of fact, when your emotions are strong, you need to really be careful. That’s the time to discount what your heart is saying or even ignore what your heart is saying because it will lead you astray. How many divorced women today can say about their estranged lover, “But I just knew in my heart that he was the ONE”? Your heart is the last thing you want to consider in making a decision and may be the one thing that you want to forget all together.
What do “circumstances” and “convenience” say? Christians often look to circumstances like “open doors” from the Lord. Circumstances cannot be ignored but they can be as much a lead from the devil as they can be from the Lord. As a matter of fact, the more convenient the path, the more certain most Christians are of the Lord’s direction. They see personal benefits along their paths which they believe are a confirmation of the Lord’s blessing upon their decisions. These are often a confirmation of his mercy not his direction. This method of deciding can be very misleading. Many of the right decisions from the Lord are very inconvenient and the circumstances are challenging to say the least [1 Cor 16:9].
What does “waiting” say? People are absolutely in too big a hurry these days. Slow down. Any decision that is good today will be good tomorrow, as well. We’re not talking about missed opportunities. We are talking about big decisions like marriage, jobs, homes, relocation and so forth. Giving these decisions ample time really helps you sort out the important details and determine for sure that it is what God wants you to do. For instance, in pre-marriage counseling I have had to remind couples who were feeling pressured about getting married that they weren’t married yet. They had time to change their minds and to deal with the problem areas without having to live with them if they didn’t change. The marriages are great but “waiting” helped resolve some things that could have caused irreparable damage later. And “waiting” actually caused some to not go forward with the decision to marry because God wasn’t “in it.”
Conclusion: Now if you want to make good decisions, answer these simple questions. Don’t act on your decision until you are sure that all of the answers to these questions have been considered. If your decision is the right thing to do, all of these answers will line up and be in balance. If your decision is wrong, then these answers are going to be disjointed. In that case, you either need to decide against what you were planning or wait until the answers are resolved. Don’t force the answers to line up; you’ll make the wrong decision.