By Tinaye Muzanya
1. Look in your bible – Sometimes we ask what God’s will is, but we never want to look at the bible or pray. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17)”.
The bible gives a clear picture on God’s moral framework i.e. what He considers to be evil and what he considers good. In the bible, one can also find sound principles on decision making. When Jesus was asked which commandment is the most important he answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”(Mark 12:29-31) It is helpful for one to ask themselves questions such as, “Will l be able to glorify God by choosing to do this?” or “How does this decision affect the people around me?”
2. Is it wise – The more time we spend with God in His word, the more our mind is renewed. Our thoughts become more like His thoughts. When we are faced with decisions we can apply the wisdom that God has given us. However, common sense has its limitations and it should never be our only criterion for discerning God’s guidance. “There are times when He leads people to do things that are contrary to our concept of good judgment. We are often too near-sighted to see the goal He has in mind. Because we see such a small part of the puzzle, we should always be willing to submit our thoughts and plans to His (Boa 2010).” We should always remember that we may plan our ways, but it is the Lord who directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9).
3. Ask for some Godly counsel – “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. (Proverbs 12:15)” “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22)” These scriptures encourage us to seek for advice from those who are wiser than us. Just like my previous point we still need to be aware of the limitations that people have. Remember that the one considered to be wise is still a finite being and may sometimes not see your situation clearly.
4. The peace of God and keeping a clear conscience – In Philippians 2:13, Paul said that “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” If a decision gives us a sense of doubt, distress, or confusion, this may be a sign that something is wrong. Paul, for example, had an open door for ministry in Troas, but because he had no rest in his spirit, he went instead to Macedonia (2 Corinthians 2:12-13).
“By itself, peace is a supplement but, not a sufficient principle of guidance. However if a particular option passes the test based on the other principles but fails to provide peace, the wisest course of action is to wait on the Lord (if the decision can be deferred) and allow Him to provide further input. The option may be right, but the timing may be wrong. (Boa, 2010)”
• You always need to pray about every decision – This thinking is mainly popular to people who only adhere to traditional view of being led. This thinking is wrong, we do not need to be told that choosing to take a bath every day or brush our teeth is good for us.
• You cannot understand God’s will – It is true that we may not always understand God’s will but sometimes we can. God gave us the ability to reason so that we may use it. Our intellect is a result of being created in His image. “It is our responsibility to submit our thinking to the truths of Scripture and the illumination of the Spirit so that we will have “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). God may direct a believer to do something that does not seem to make the best sense, but this is exceptional, not normative.” (Boa, 2010)
• I will be sad if l submit to God’s will – Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and to fully enjoy him forever (Westminster Catechism). The truth is “the precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. (Psalm 19:8)”.
• Submitting to God’s will is the key to a problem free life – This is false. Looking at the book of Acts we see how the disciples suffered for the cause of Christ.
• If l discern the will of God wrongly my life is over – It is important for us to seek God for clarity when we are in doubt. On the other hand, we should also be weary that the fear of making a wrong decision doesn’t cripple us into not making a decision. If at some point we are to misjudge God’s will we can be confident that God will re-direct us. The heroes of Faith in Hebrews chapter 11 were not perfect, just like us. When we study their lives we see how God corrected and re-directed them so that His purpose could be fulfilled.
• I am left alone in making decisions – Jesus is our “good shepherd”. Just like the Psalmist we can say, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. ”(Psalms 23:1-3)
• Boa, K. 2010, “Discerning the will of God “, in Bible.org, viewed 1 December 2016, from https://bible.org/article/discerning-will-god