Last week, we discussed God's sovereign will, His moral will, and His specific will, and we learned that God desires our transformation and for us to live wisely. This week, we'll look at how to make wise decisions that are in line with God's revealed will, using three broad guidelines: freedom in Christ, God's glory, and others' good.
Freedom in Christ
We often discuss the idea of freedom in Christ as a concept that helps us to live under grace instead of under the law. But freedom in Christ also applies to our decision-making. For example, in 2 Corinthians Chapter 9, Paul tells believers to "give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." The decision for how much to give to the church is something we decide freely, individually, and from our hearts. What matters isn't so much what we give, but how we give -- generously and wholeheartedly. What we give falls under the realm of freedom, while how we give falls under the realm of God's revealed will.
Another place Paul prioritizes freedom in decision-making is in his discussion about marriage in 1 Corinthians 7. Here, Paul tells single believers that they may marry if they wish to, and he specifically says that a widow "is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord." We can apply this wisdom to any single person: God's revealed will is that if a Christian marries, he or she should marry a believer. Under Christ's freedom, we may choose for ourselves whether to marry and who to marry within the framework of God's revealed will. There are numerous other examples of Paul acting from his own wisdom and thought processes. Paul is free to choose whether to travel with Barnabus or Silas, whether to go to this or that town, and with whom to share the gospel. And when he does perceive God moving him toward a specific path, he acts accordingly.
Freedom reflects God's grace. In order for us to grow as believers in Christ, God gives us freedom to fail, freedom to think for ourselves, freedom to take risks, and freedom to fall. As long as we make decisions within the parameters of God's revealed, moral will, we can trust that our decisions will honor God, and He will use them to work out His will through us.
Freedom comes with the responsibility to consider God's glory and others' good.
As we act from God's revealed will under Christ's freedom, we may still face decisions that are not as clear-cut as we'd like. When that happens, we must consider how our decisions reflect on God, and how our decisions help others. Paul also comments on this when he discusses whether or not Christians should eat food offered to idols. On the one hand, he says that believers have freedom in Christ, but on the other, he says, "not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others." If our actions hurt another believer, then we should make a different choice. He goes on to say, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." So the two criteria for making decisions under questionable circumstances are God's glory and others' good. Does this sound familiar? It should. Jesus himself told us that the greatest two commandments were to love God with our entire being and to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we act with these motivations, we can be sure to make decisions within God's will.
So, what is God's will for my life?
- God wants us to obey His moral will, revealed in His Word
- God wants us to be transformed
- God wants us to be wise
- God wants us to evaluate our circumstances and use our brains.
- God wants us to trust Him
And when we do all these things, the final step is to just do something! God is not at the mercy of our actions. We can't screw up His sovereign will. In His grace, He has given us freedom to live as we choose within the parameters of His revealed Word and will.
Questions to Consider:
- Am I paralyzed by indecision because I'm afraid of stepping outside of God's will? How can I embrace my freedom in Christ?
- Do my choices reflect positively on Christ and His glory?
- Do my choices help others?