Spiritual Decision-Making

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Every day we’re faced with decisions that we must make, and those decisions will affect the direction of our lives in one of two fundamental ways: we’ll either get closer to God or further away. Some decisions we deliberate on are small, or seemingly inconsequential (“What should I prioritize in my schedule this week?”), and some have more a more dramatic or lasting impact (“Should we try to have another kid?”). And the bigger the decision gets the more stressful it can feel, and the more sensitive we may be to input from others if we haven’t exercised our own spiritual muscles.

This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; [10] that you will see the difference between what is important and what is not and choose what is important; that you will be pure and blameless for the coming of Christ; [11] that your life will be full of the many good works that are produced by Jesus Christ to bring glory and praise to God.

Philippians 1:9-11 ERV

Part of growing and maturing spiritually is learning to discern the difference between what’s important and what’s not according to God. He has to define what’s important, and not us; that’s the key element of spiritual decision making. And what’s important to God is that our love grows: the way we know if a decision we make is the right one according to God is whether or not we become more loving people as a result of the choice we’ve made.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. [3] For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. [4] So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. [5] If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. [6] But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. [7] Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. [8] Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

James 1:2-8 NLT

You may find yourself in a position now where you’re needing to make a choice, and the choice you make will have serious ramifications spiritually and emotionally. Or, you may be reflecting on your daily life and seeing the need to reexamine your priorities based on feedback you’re getting from friends, or a distance you feel in your relationship with God. Whatever the challenge may be, God wants us to see that the process of searching our heart and making decisions based on what God wants for our lives is how we grow.

Examples of decisions we face

There are lots of different types of decisions we need to make day to day, but there are three categories worth honing in on when considering scenarios where we need to make spiritual decisions:

  • Schedule decisions – What we prioritize during the week. Should I spend time with people who will help me in my relationship with God, or choose to be alone?
  • Relationship decisions – Which relationships should I invest in? Will I be honest with my spouse or choose to be hidden? What are the consequences of these decisions?
  • Life decisions – Big choices that will affect our lives in a major way. Should I marry this person? Should I take that job? Should I move there?

Making any of these decisions without regard to the impact our choices have on our ability to remain intimately close to God and able to live a life of love is to say we don’t believe we need to apply the Bible to our lives. Again, the choices we make will either draw us closer to God, or push us farther away.

What pleases God?

[1] Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. [2] Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2 NIV

It makes God happy when we give our lives to him as a sacrifice, no longer trying to control them for ourselves but willing to do whatever God wants because we are grateful for what he has done for us.

  • Do you conform to the pattern of the world in your decision-making?
  • What’s the “pattern of the world” in your case when making big decisions?
  • Have you experienced the transformative renewing of mind to focus on pleasing God?
  • Do you have a ‘please God first’ mindset?
  • Do you believe God’s will for your life is good? How does it affect our decision making when we don’t?
[33] What you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what he wants you to do. Then he will give you all these other things you need. [34] So don’t worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Tomorrow will have its own worries.

Matthew 6:33-34 ERV

  • Is God’s kingdom what you want most in life?
  • What are the desires you have that can supplant God’s kingdom?
  • Some examples: comfort, easier life, money/financial control, attention, people’s approval, family’s approval.

Faithful decisions please God

[38] And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” [39] But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Hebrews 10:38-39 NIV

  • Fear makes us want to take control of our life (schedule, future, etc) and shrink back from faith in God instead.
  • In what ways do you feel afraid, and tempted to take control of your life?

Purposeful decisions please God

The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them.”

Luke 19:10 ERV

  • Jesus’ purpose on earth was not career, money or maximizing comfortability, but rather finding the lost and saving them
  • This should be our goal as his disciples in every decision we make

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus-the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

Acts 20:24 NLT

  • Nothing we do in life will matter if we stray from the purpose God called us to
  • When making spiritual decisions, you should ask yourself if what you’re choosing will help you make more of an impact on others or less.
  • Is this your attitude now? Or has your purpose as a Christian taken a backseat to other things?

Questions for reflection and discussion

If you read this study on your own, take some time with friends to ask the following questions and get perspective and help you in your spiritual decision-making:

  • What are the desires you have that can compete with God’s kingdom and affect your decision-making? Some examples: comfort, easy life, money/financial control, attention, people’s approval, family’s approval, etc
  • What are some ways you have seen the temptation to take control of your life come up?
  • What do you think it would look like to make seeking and saving the lost your top priority?

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