Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. 3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. 4 Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day (Psalm 25: 1-5).
How do we determine God’s will when we stand at the crossroads of life? In our article last week, we considered two ways we can be guided to know and do God’s will. They are: 1) Prayer and submission; and 2) “Clearing the decks”. Let us look at the next two steps for guidance (gleaned from Dr Peter Masters’ book, Steps for Guidance):
3. Using God’s Word
In this third step, we are directed to God’s Word for counsel as we make life’s major decisions. In Psalm 25, the psalmist prayed that that the Lord would show him His will through “thy truth”: “Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day” (vv 4-5).
Believers may need guidance on which church to join, where to live, or which college or university to attend. However, they may feel that the Scriptures are “not specific enough” in guiding them to a sound decision.
Is it really true that God’s Word is “not specific enough” to provide counsel? Definitely not. Dr Masters makes this clear: “Scripture, however, pronounces on far more matters than we often think. It contains, as we shall see, principles, concerning the use of our time and our money, principles by which we decide every major purchase, and even the leisure pursuits we adopt.” To reiterate, he quotes passages such as I Corinthians 6: 12 – “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any”; and I Corinthians 10: 23 – “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not”. Passages like these “… are essential tests in such decisions. It will never be the will of God for us to act contrary to His Word” (Steps for Guidance).
Sadly, many believers make important decisions without looking to Scriptural principles for guidance. There are clear texts in God’s Word which urge us to put the Lord’s service first. Yet, some accept a new, well-paying job entailing much weekend travel that disrupts their ministry in the church. Others, having bought expensive homes that are beyond their means, find themselves unable to fulfil their stewardship obligations to the church.
“If people are fortunate enough to be confronted by a choice between companies, such principles taught in the Word will often prove to be powerful, even conclusive, factors in their decision. The light streaming from the Bible is far brighter than we often expect” (ibid).
Some years ago, an accountant who was also a Sunday School teacher was given the task of streamlining the company’s accounting system. This involved frequent overseas trips which affected his ministry in the church. Deeply convicted to prioritise the Lord’s work, he finally resigned and took up a teaching position in a local polytechnic. It was not easy for this dear brother to make financial adjustments as he had to support his family, but he made the wise choice to put the Lord first in his life (Matt 6: 33).
As we face important choices, let us, like this faithful brother, look to Scripture to guide us to make God-honouring decisions.
4. Personal discernment
In matters where there seems to be no clear word from Scripture, we must weigh the issues carefully. At the same time, we must pray for God’s help as exhorted by the apostle James: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (Jas 1: 5). David reiterated this truth in psalm 25 – that God will grant discernment to those who fear Him: “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way” (v 9).
When we rely on the Lord to direct our paths, “He will graciously sharpen our minds and increase our wisdom, in accordance with His promises. As we weigh the pros and cons we will see factors which would otherwise have escaped us” (ibid).
When seeking guidance, some believers want a direct word from the Lord, and are not keen to think things through. As Christians, we are to exercise our responsibility to use the mind God has given us to carefully weigh our options and come to a right decision. We need to consider “how the conflicting choices before us will affect our work and service for the Lord, our worship, our stewardship, our testimony, the spiritual welfare of our family, and our own sanctification” (ibid).
As we deliberate on the various issues before us, we must also watch out for changing circumstances as directed by the Lord. It is also important not to rule out counsel from our pastors or other mature Christians. Let us heed King Solomon’s advice in the book of Proverbs: “he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise” (12: 15); “in multitude of counsellors there is safety” (24: 6).
Dr Masters said it well when he warned: “… when believers go mysteriously secretive and quiet, keeping their decisions entirely to themselves, it usually means they are pressing forward with objectives they know their friends would strongly challenge.”
While we wait upon the Lord for guidance, let us seek His help and wisdom. Let us also take time to think through our options and ask counsel of godly Christians. May the Lord guide us to make decisions that are pleasing to Him. ( … to be continued)