/ Guidance / Warren Peel

Decisions, Decisions!

I've been thinking a lot about guidance over the last few weeks, because I’ve been invited to become the Pastor of two different congregations. How do we know what God wants us to do in any given situation? When it comes to marriage, a college course, a career path or a job opportunity, is there one right option that is God’s will and we have to find it or we are doomed to live a second-best life? Should I be an accountant or an optician? What if I get it wrong? Am I disobeying God? Am I missing out on living my best life?

Mature Christians don’t panic about these things, because they know certain things are true:

1.       God hasn’t left us to stumble around in the dark trying to discern his will. His word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (Ps 119.105). We believe that Scripture tells us everthing we need to know for life and godliness (Deut 29.29; 2Tim 3.16; 2Pt 1.3). It gives us clear and sufficient principles to evaluate what is right and wrong as well as what is wise and foolish.

2.       God gives us a great deal of freedom in decision making – even very major decisions. I’ve been helped this week by thinking about 1Cor 7.39, which gives advice to widows who wish to remarry: A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. The choice of a marriage partner is about as major a life-decision as you could imagine, but what does God say? There is a clear-cut boundary which would be sinful to cross—the man you marry must be a believer—but within that boundary you are free to marry whomever you wish! That lifts a huge burden off us as we think about so many decisions in life. God says, ‘You are free to study whatever you wish! You are free to live wherever you wish! You are free to choose whatever career you wish!’ There may be some things that are off-limits because it would be wrong, and there will be many things it wouldn’t be wise to do because of our circumstances; but within these boundaries there is a vast amount of freedom!

3.       We should always aim to choose what is best out of all the available options, which is no easy task. It requires love (for God and others), knowledge and insight (Phil 1.9-10), but we need the humility to acknowledge that only God infallibly knows what is best and we often can’t tell, because of our very limited knowledge and understanding. Even after we’ve made our decision, we may never know in this life if we chose what was best or not. But we don’t need to know that (or we’d never make any decisions). All we can do is use all the resources the Lord has given us (the Holy Spirit, prayer, Scripture, trusted counsellors who know us and our circumstances), check our motives are as pure as they can be, gather all the information we can that would be useful in making the decision and then make the decision, leaving the outcome to the Lord.

4.       God works all things for good (Rom 8.28), and that includes not only our foolish choices but even our sins. It doesn’t mean we don’t try to make the best decisions we possibly can, but we can relax in the knowledge that he is sovereign over everything that happens. We can’t derail his plan.

Warren Peel

Warren Peel

Warren has been married to Ruth since 1998 and God has blessed them with four daughters. He is Pastor of Trinity RPC in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland. He serves as a Trustee of the Banner of Truth.

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