Summary: If you need to make a decision ask your wise friends or mentors for advice. God will use them to guide you.
Well, we’ve come to the end of our series on Decision Making, so let’s have a quick quiz. What have we learned about making decisions in our lives? First of all, who do you rely on to guide you through your life?
If your answer was God or the Holy Spirit you’ve started well.
Next question: What is the primary means by which God promises to guide us? I hope your answer was through his word; through what we find in the Bible?
That leads to the next, and much more important question: Have you resolved to make reading your Bible a priority for your life? Have you worked out that knowing that God has given us his word to guide us is of no use unless you actually take it and study it?
Next Question: What happens if you get it wrong? Does that ruin God’s plan for your life? This one’s a little more difficult isn’t it? All of us get worried at one time or another that we’ve blown it with God. Some of us have made such terrible mistakes that we think they’re irredeemable. Yet we know that God promises to overlook our weakness. In fact he tells us that his power is made great in our weakness. So there are no mistakes that we can make that will limit God in bringing about his plans for us. God is sovereign over all things, including our mistakes.
Here’s our final question: Apart from knowing God’s will and waiting for the prompting of the Holy Spirit to show you the right path to take, what else can you do to make sure you make the right decisions?
Well, you may remember when I began this series, one of the things that God desires of us in decision making is to exercise wisdom, so I thought we might have a quick look at a couple of things we find in the book of Proverbs, which will help us if we’re having trouble with a particularly tough decision.
Proverbs 12:15 tells us: “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice.” One of the worst things you can do if you’re trying to make a difficult choice is to think that only you could know the answer; or that your choice must be the best; or that you know better than anyone else. That’s the way fools think. Wise people listen to advice. Wise people seek out wise counsellors to get their opinion.
Proverbs 19:20-21 reminds us that good advice and wise instruction will help us in the future because they’ll help us discern what God has in mind for us: “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom for the future. 21The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established.”
Again Proverbs 20:18 says: “Plans are established by taking advice; wage war by following wise guidance.” How many battles have been lost because a commander thought he knew more than his officers who were out in the field.
I read an article a couple of months ago about an Australian General who was renowned for leaving the command post to go out and see for himself what was happening on the battlefields and talk to his officers about the battle. There was one occasion when he was in a strategy meeting with the British Generals and he told them they were making a mistake. When they asked him how he could know that, he said, “I was just out there and saw the situation for myself.”
Of course the effectiveness of getting advice from others depends on who those others are. Proverbs 13:20 warns “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm.”
There’s no shortage of people around who’ll tell you what to do. Everyone has an opinion if you ask them. But they’re not always wise opinions. Sometimes it depends on where they’ve got their opinion from. So be careful.
Prov 14:7-8 warns us to “Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not find words of knowledge. 8It is the wisdom of the clever to understand where they go, but the folly of fools misleads.”
In the Bible Reading we just heard Moses does just this and ends up much better off than he was before. He begins by listening to one person’s advice but in fact what he ends up with is a whole new group of people who will become his advisors. Let’s think about what happens in that account.
Moses is sitting in the seat of judgement hearing all the various complaints that people bring to him. You can imagine the sort of complaints he’s be asked to rule on: they’d vary from the petty complaints of someone who’s been annoyed by their neighbour’s dog or had a tent set up too close to theirs, to more serious charges of injury or theft or even murder. The people are standing around patiently waiting for his judgement and it’s taking all day. Moses doesn’t have a moment to think, let alone relax. Maybe to start with he’s pleased to be the centre of attention but by now it’s probably rubbing off.