The late J. Christy Wilson was raised on the mission field in Persia, present day Iran. In the mid-1950’s, he and his wife became the first missionaries to Afghanistan. They had a valuable ministry with Mrs. Wilson developing braille for the Afghan language. She taught blind Afghan children and in a class of 17 students, 13 confessed Christ. Although this was in the pre-Taliban period, the government was nevertheless still repressive towards Christianity. Therefore in 1972 the government deported the Wilsons. After they returned to the U.S., I heard Mr. Wilson speak on the subject of God’s guidance. Below is an enlargement of Mr. Wilson’s teaching on decision making.
Follow Biblical Commandments
The most important commandment is to accept “You must be born-again.” This is foundational to all decision making in life. Once a person has become a Christian, they should attempt to follow two commands the Lord Jesus gave which cover all areas of morality. First, they should love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. Second, they should love their neighbor as them self. (Mk. 12:29-31).
Follow Biblical Principles
The difference between a biblical command and a biblical principle is that commands are explicit and principles are inferred from commands. For example, there is no command in scripture to refrain from spending long hours (unrelated to work) looking at electronic screens. But there are commands to redeem the time, to be careful about what we look at and to be separated from the world. Being obedient to biblical principles is essential to making right decisions.
Knowing the law does not empower us to follow these principles and commandments but to honor the Lord we must walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25). The indwelling Spirit gives us the power to obey God’s laws from the heart (Acts 1:8; Titus 3:5).
Prayer, Scriptural Meditation and Fellowship
We speak to God in prayer and he teaches us through Scripture. In order to follow biblical commandments and principles, regular devotional time with the Lord is essential. For spiritual growth there is no substitute for one-to-one fellowship with the Lord. Fellowship with other believers is also extremely important. The Christian who does these things from the heart will better be able to discern the Lord’s guidance.
Listen to the Advice of Parents and Mature Christians
Christian parents love their children and usually give good advice. Further, unsaved parents may also have a lot of wisdom to offer that is in accord with biblical teaching.
Seeking the advice of mature Christians helps to avoid making bad decisions. In Proverbs 24:6 we read, “For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counselors there is safety.” We have decisions to make every day, many of which are minor, others which are more important. Then there are the decisions which have a huge impact on our lives. What career should I pursue? Should I go to college, and if so, what college? How should I (we) spend money? Where should I (we) live? Where and how should I be involved in Christian ministry? Should I marry and if so, whom should I marry?
In the major decisions of life listening to the counsel of godly people helps to give spiritual and emotional protection.
It is fine to ask God to open the right door and close the wrong doors. However, sometimes two or more doors are quite open! Following the aforementioned principles is very important to be able to discern how the Lord is leading in our circumstances.
The Lord can give peace regarding decisions. But feelings are last on the list in terms of importance because they, like circumstances, can change rapidly and be difficult to analyze. The key to having peace is to be practicing the above principles.
Jim Elliot was a man who had right priorities in decision making which had life and death implications. He and four other young men were killed in Ecuador by the Auca Indians in 1956. Elizabeth Elliot’s biography of him, “In the Shadow of the Almighty,” gives insight into how he decided to go to the Aucas. In his journals, he showed an intense desire to be spiritually obedient. He was a man of prayer, was regularly in the Word, and he was continually fellowshipping with other Christians. He had a close relationship with his godly parents and at the close of his last letter to them he wrote, “The gospel to every creature.”
After arriving in Ecuador, he had a decision to make as to where he should minister. Should he stay in the rain forest town of Shandia and work with the Quichua Indians, who numbered in the thousands or should he risk his life and work with the Auca who numbered in the hundreds. He came to believe that the Lord was leading him to the Auca, and he had a feeling of peace regarding that decision. In the years following his death, the majority of the Auca, including the killers of the five men became Christians. The testimony of the five martyrs resulted in a large increase of young people becoming overseas missionaries. Jim Elliot practiced good principles of decision making and the Lord was with him and guided him.
God’s Will and His Guidance
As we seek God’s guidance for many everyday decisions, there are other things that God plainly states to be His will. For example, it is God’s will that we pray. In fact, we should pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:18). We should also mediate on God’s Word (Josh. 1:8) and fellowship together (Heb. 10:24-25).
Even one following God’s basic will stated in the Bible can sometimes make a wrong decision. In those cases, God is still able to work it out for good (Rom. 8:28). This teaching is a comfort, given that no Christian always makes correct decisions. We are eternally grateful to the Lord for his grace and mercy towards us! Let our goal be, “to commit our way unto to the Lord; to trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” (Psa. 37:5). Doing so, He will continue to guide us in decision making as we look forward to being in heaven with Him forever.