Summary: God has given us freedom to make our big decisions but he wants us to make sure that whatever we do it should lead to lives that are worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and it should help us to grow in the knowledge
Making Big Decisions audio (5MB)
We’ve all had to do it in the past and we’ll all have to do it again. Every one of us, no matter how old we are or how clever we are will have to make a big decision sooner or later. Most of us will have to make several big decisions in our life. Some have already made some of these.
Let me give you some examples: Should I marry? If so, who should I marry?
Should we have a child? Or another child?
Should I join this Church or that one?
Which profession should I go into? Which job should I apply for/accept?
Should I consider full-time Christian Ministry? If so should it be in a local church or a missions organisation?
How much should I give to God’s work? How should I divide it up?
These are all decisions that people have to make at one point or another in their life. But how do you make sure you mak
e the right decision?
What makes many of these big decisions hard for the Christian is that the Bible doesn’t always address the issue. Some of the issues we face didn’t exist in Bible times. So how do we decide?
Well, let me suggest that one way forward is to see how the Bible addresses some of these big questions and then use them as a model for making decisions on other issues.
So let me begin by looking at two test cases.
Test Case 1: Marriage
Should a person marry or not? Well, what do we know about the Bible’s teaching on marriage?
1 Marriage is a GOOD THING: Part of God’s creation plan.
In Genesis 2 we read that God saw that it wasn’t good for the man to be alone so he created a partner for him - bone of his bones, flesh of his flesh. - in every way his equal. And then we’re told “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.” So marriage is a good thing, ordained for men & women as part of his creation act.
2 God’s moral will makes a difference
But of course we then have the fall. As a result men & women find it hard to get on with each other yet at the same time are attracted to each other - and not always in a helpful way. As Erasmus is quoted as saying: “Women! Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.”
Paul’s take on this question is made very clear in 1 Cor 7. There he answers a question about marriage: “Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: ‘It is well for a man not to touch a woman.’ 2But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” The Corinthians were suggesting that celibacy was preferable to marriage, presumably because it would help you maintain your purity of life. Paul’s answer is basically that remaining single won’t solve your problem. If sexual purity is a problem for you, you’d do better to marry, if you can; to enter into the relationship, of a man and woman joined together for life, that God ordained from the beginning.
However he goes on “8To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am.” If they can manage it, that is. Being single he says frees you up to serve God without hindrance in a way that a husband or wife, a mother or father can’t do.
3 One’s own personality
So what we find here is that God’s moral will regulates but doesn’t determine marriage. Paul’s preference - for ministry reasons - is singleness, but not everyone has that gift. So part of the decision making process is to think about your own personality.
4. Only marry a believer
In 2 Cor 6:14 Paul gives the general advice: “Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness?” At the end of the passage in 1 Cor 7 he says that widows are free to remarry but “only in the Lord.” So if you’re looking for a marriage partner be careful. Make sure that he or she is a Christian.
Of course if you’re already married to an unbeliever don’t despair. Paul addresses that possibility as well. In 1 Cor 7:13-14 he says: “If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.”