What makes a good decision? What makes a bad decision? What is a godly decision? Is it the same as a good decision? Will it have the same outcome? Will it be good for us, or might a godly decision be bad for us?
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
That doesn’t mean fear as in to be terrified of but the appropriate response we make to our creator and redeemer. ‘LORD’ translates Yahweh – God’s name, God is our creator and redeemer yet reveals himself by name, he call us into relationship with him, in Jesus. Wisdom is living out that relationship.
Making godly decisions is not slavish obedience to a long list of do’s and don’ts, I’m not going to give you a 27 page list of godly decisions in different scenarios so you can tick them off as you come across them. Making godly decisions is not done on a cost benefit analysis of what will be good for me, but trusting that God is our loving heavenly father who longs for us to live out our gospel freedom for our best and his glory. 3 fundamental principles must influence and drive our thinking:
1. The Gospel causes us to love and pursue GodWe don’t obey God or make godly decision to earn his favour. In Luke 7:36-50 contrasts Simon and sinful woman. Jesus tells a story that reveals their hearts, their motives. (41-42) there are two men both are bankrput, one owes a vast debt, the other a smaller debt, both are amazingly forgiven their debts. The key is the question Jesus poses (42)’Which one loved him more?’
The woman’s lavish loving worship is the result of her grasp of the magnitude of God’s outrageous love for her in forgiving her sin, she knows how much she has been forgiven so she loves so much.
If we want to make godly decisions we need to grasp this same truth, our love of God who loved us so much he sent his son must be our motivation. Love for God prompts the desire to make godly decisions. A desire to make godly decisions flows from a right understanding of the magnitude of our sin and the salvation, and a desire to respond to it.
2. The gospel means we can know GodGodly decision making isn’t obedience to rules but a growing relational reality. As we come to know God we realise he does all things for our good and his purposes are best – we can do his will even when it runs contrary to ours. We get to know God by reading his word, studying it with others, and by helping one another apply it to our lives. We gain new insights into God’s love for us in Christ so that we desire/love him and want to please him. We see what God loves, hear his loving warnings, see his future, are encouraged in our struggles.
3. The Gospel redeems us to walk with GodWe are saved for a purpose; to glorify God by being holy - set apart. The Epistles talk a lot about walking/living to please God, and they also talk about God equipping us to do so; Gal 5:16 “walk by the Spirit” idea is putting your footsteps where he puts his. John 16 – In the Spirit we are taught, equipped and led, our hearts and desires are changed (John 3) because of the gospel. And God also gives us other Christians to encourage, equip, challenge us.
1 Peter describes us as exiles – foreigners living for God. 2:11-12 sums up how exiles live: Fight sin, do good, call sinners, then he fleshes that out. That is God's will for us.
God’s love seen in the gospel motivates, empowers and enables us to live to please God.
So how do we make godly decisions?
There is a trememndous liberty in the gospel to live out our gospel identity as God's holy people, loved by him and loving him in a community which loves and lives for him. Knowing who we are in Christ and the nature of our Father is key in motivating us and enabling us to make godly decisions.
Most of the decisions we make are not directly answered in the bible: what to wear, what to watch, where to go etc... But the principles above help us.
God’s will is that we lead holy lives, loving him and each other. Our top priority in our decision making is to love, serve and glorify God.
Some questions to ask of ourselves and with others as we make decisions:
1. What motives come into play as I think about this? Which of them are sinful? Which run counter to the gospel and who God has made me? Pray that God would show us our hearts.
2. Pray for God to give us wisdom. (James 1v5) Recognise he has as he gives us his word. So study God’s word to you, ask:
a. What does the bible say about this explicitly?
b. Are there any principles it gives which may be applicable?
c. Are there any examples not to follow or to follow?
3. How are we seeking God’s kingdom in this decision? How will it enable me to serve God? How is it for my building up or that of others?
4. What do my close Christian friends or family say about it?