Thursday, March 24, 2005

Because the customer is always right

You see, this is why people should leave more comments on my blog; I'm very responsive to them!

So, Ryan asked in a previous post that I expand on the idea of "finding God's will." Not just saying how not to do it, but talking more about how to do it. The first thing you should note is that much of my commentary regarding this topic comes from a book titled "Decision Making and the Will of God" by Garry Friesen. It's not to say that I've taken my opinion lock, stock, and barrel from him, but he has the best scriptural treatment on the topic that I've heard so far. If anyone happens to know of a better treatment by a dissenting opinion, let me know.

The first thing we have to do is to establish what we're talking about when we say, "The Will of God." Traditionally, this has been laid out in three categories:

  • God's sovereign will, whereby God directs the currents and tides of history and all of mankind's activities.
  • God's moral will, where God explains His character through the commands and teachings on how to live a moral, Godly life.
  • God's personal will, whereby God directs the believer in non-moral decisions in order to find the perfect direction for his/her life.

Unfortunately, the third is just not a biblical idea. There are very few times when God does that sort of micromanaging in people's lives in scripture, and it is never commanded to seek out such a "will" for your life.

So, then, what is the biblical model for decision making?

Well, there is not a place in scripture which reads "And the Lord said unto Moses, 'Tell the people of Israel to make all decisions thusly . . .'" It doesn't work like that. But what Friesen derives from scripture is this: The way of the Bible is the way of wisdom.

Making a decision means first running it past the moral will of God. Does it violate clear commands or principles of scripture? If not, then you're on the right track.

The next step is to examine the situation with wisdom. Is it a wise decision? Who should you consult to help determine this? Experts? Someone older, with more experience? Examine your options, and make the decision that seems best. In addition to this step, consider the spiritual expediency of your decision. Some decisions are non-moral, but not all are non-spiritual. Does one of the choices you face stand to help your spiritual growth and service? Does one of them hinder it? Carefully consider this idea. Some people, for example, might see the obvious implication in a spiritual vs. a secular vocation. But just because one is not a missionary/pastor/etc. does not mean that one cannot serve God just as effectively, if not more so, pursuing another vocation.

The final step (I'm not really going step for step out of his book, I'm just remembering what I can) is to decide what it is you want. It is not God's desire for you to choose a decision that will make you miserable. If you hate your job, can't stand your co-workers, and go to work dreading every moment of every day, how can you effectively serve God from there? You can't. Granted, you must make certain the decision which will make you happy falls into the previous three categories, but it's still very important.

So, there you go. Making decisions biblically. To close, I'm going to offer what I consider to be the best example of this. Look at the book of Acts. If anyone should have had a grip on this whole thing, it was Paul. Paul's missionary journies built the foundation of the 1st century church. So when Paul was planning his travels, what did he do? Did he pray with his colleagues, asking God to show them where they should head next? No. Instead, the writer says over and over that Paul and his companions went where they thought it would be best to travel next. Only once does God intervene and tell Paul to do something different, and then He did so in a dream. It was pretty clear what God intended to communicate there. I think this illustration best demonstrates the principles at work in the biblical model of decision making.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Hal! I clicked on your link from your AIM profile while I was procrastinating on Wednesday, I'm glad I did. I'd been to your site before awhile ago, when you were updating infrequently. Graduation has been on my mind, and some regret that I haven't stayed in better contact with my friends from my first three semesters of college.

On your blog, I scanned for posts related toi religion, as I'm not as much into politics. Its interesting that you mentioned going to Philosophy Club. I wanted to do that, but I have night class. The books I've seen you recommend (also "The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread") look great. A secondary good that could come from me reading those books is a more fair & complete view of Protestantism. Many Catholics, myself included, often associate contemporary American Protestant theology with Chicken Soup for the Soul / Purpose-Driven Life / Thomas Kinkade Painter of Light(TM) / Dr. Phil ... as Kinkade has said, "I like to portray a world without the Fall." I'm happy to see that you can't be lumped together with my oversimplistic notion of Protestantism.

Thanks for the reply and the book recommendations. May our Lord bless you on this anniversary of His death.

-Ryan Herr.