This single question has been one that I have wrestled with over and over again for as long as I have been a Christian. When approaching a major decision, how to I balance walking by faith while exercising Godly wisdom?
When Amber and I were dating, we actually prayerfully struggled with if it were the right decision to get married or not. We wanted to to get married; however, we were twenty years old, sophomores in college, and broke. Some counseled us to, “trust God, walk by faith, and get married. After all, if it’s God’s will, He won’t let you down…right?” Others advised that we exercise Godly wisdom and ensure what we were doing was actually a part of God’s plan for our lives.
As a young man in love, how in the world would I decipher between what living by faith and walking in wisdom looks like? Not to mention lying quietly in the grey is this little thing called “God’s Will”. How do I know if I am honoring God’s will in my decision making?
I’m sure if you’ve followed Jesus for more than five minutes, you too have struggled with the tension between faith and wisdom. The difficulty lies in the fact that both are soundly biblical and a part of the Christian life.
The Bible counsels in Proverbs 2:1-2, “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding.”
2 Corinthians 5:7 clearly commissions Christians to “…live by faith, not by sight.”
Over the course of my life, I’ve wrestled numerous times with finding a healthy balance between walking by faith and living by sound wisdom. Whether it’s been to go back to school, have a baby, move to a new ministry, or most recently, to buy a house, there is tension between faith and wisdom. And as Christians we are expected to navigate that tension by following God and obeying His will.
As I spent some time in reflection on some of the decisions I have made, I realized that subconsciously there are a few questions that I naturally asked which helped me to make the best decisions.
1. Is it inside the will of God?
As our Father in heaven (Matthew 6:9), God is not keeping His will for your life a secret. He really does want you to know what His will for your life is. But He wants you to seek Him to discover it. That takes intimate prayer and a careful study of His word. As you seek God and you know Him more, when you discover what His will is for your life, it won’t matter what the plan is. You will want to follow Him no matter what because as a result of your search to know Him and His will for you, you will have discovered how incredibly faithful He really is.
I’ll often hear people say, “I feel like God is leading me to do.” Then I’ll ask how they came to feel this way. It usually is a case of indigestion from the mexican food they ate last night.
Here’s the truth: God’s Word trumps how you feel. If you’re not into His word and matching up what you feel against His word, then you will not understand what His will for your life.
2. How long have you thought about it?
A good night’s sleep can help clarify direction and decision making. Allowing several days to think about a decision will remove the impulse from making a decision. The Bible says in Proverbs 21:5, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Don’t make big decisions hastily. Take some time to think about it.
3. Have you sought wise counsel?
The Bible says in Proverbs 20:18, “Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.” When you’re approaching a decision, ask someone you trust what they think. Seek the counsel of someone wiser than you, more experienced than you, in the same field than you, that has walked where you are walking.
In the course of time, I have recognized a handful of people whose advice I trust. These are people who follow Christ, who love His Church, and love me for me (in that order). I know that they will shoot me straight and nine times out of ten, I will probably follow their collective advice.
4. Have you weighed its risk versus your reality?
This question is so important with making decisions that will have a direct effect on your future. It is especially relevant to financial decisions. I’ve known people who make financial decisions that require a tremendous amount of faith that if God didn’t come through, it could result in financial ruin. I’ve made a few of these decisions myself.
What you have to consider when taking such risks is this: what will the outcome be for everyone involved should this not be God’s plan for my life? I am not suggesting that you doubt God’s plan nor should you have a plan B just in case He doesn’t come through. I’m merely adding this question into the series of questions you will ask when making a decision.
For example, going back to college could be a great step for your future. While it’s benefits could be life-changing for your tomorrow, the costs could be enormous today. This decision could be simple for someone who is single, without kids, and has very little financial concern at the moment. However, for a person who is married with children and whose family is dependent upon your income, this might be a giant decision where your reality might not currently allow for such a risk.
5. Have you diligently prayed about it?
Prayer ought to be the first step you take. So if this is the last question you’re asking yourself as you prepare to make a decision, and you realize that you’ve not devoted much time to prayer, then might I suggest that you take a few steps back and camp out here for a while before you consider taking a step toward a decision?
While this is list is not exhaustive nor all-inclusive, asking these questions will help you balance the tension of walking by faith and living with wisdom. I’d love to hear what other criteria you’ve used to make sound decisions that honor God. Chime in and join the conversation by leaving a comment below.