Election Year Decisions
Since 2016 is an election year, every U.S. citizen has an important decision to make. There are many people telling you who to choose. However, there is a much bigger issue, which very few are addressing: how to decide.
Some who make a mess of their lives likely never learned how to make godly decisions. In fact, many parents set out dozens of rules about what their kids should do or not do. The challenge? No one can anticipate every situation. Parents can’t anticipate what choices their children might face.
Parents can, however, teach children how to make good decisions. The “how” is where many people go through life as a train wreck: one bad decision after another.
So what does God give you on how to make decisions?
In Scripture, decision-making seems to have a lot to do with the work of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:2 it says “Jesus gave instructions to the apostles by the Holy Spirit.” This is the same Holy Spirit who is the centerpiece of activity in the mission of the church: In Acts 1:8, it says “when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for Me….”
In Acts 5:32, it says, “We and the Holy Spirit are witnesses to Jesus and the resurrection.” During the first expansion of Christianity and the requirement to delegate ministry, the apostles chose seven men to help with ministry. In choosing them, it was important that these seven men were “known to be full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:2-5). The text goes on to say how that was so important: “They chose Philip (and the others) because they were ‘full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.’” They were wise and knew how to make good decisions. The result? In verse 7 it says the church grew and expanded its leadership base.
In Acts 15, you find one of the greatest challenges to the early church. It was a big decision. Since Jesus was Jewish and the movement of Christianity came out of Judaism, there was his important question, “Should Gentile men be circumcised, and should Gentile women be required to follow all the dietary rules of a kosher kitchen?” This was a gigantic decision that would determine whether Christianity would remain a small Jewish sect or become a world religion.
The Jerusalem council leaders made the decision that Gentiles and others could become Christians without being culturally Jewish. In explaining this to some Gentiles, Paul said, in Acts 15:28, “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things….” The “necessary things” were the values of a Christian life that would not cause offense. The role of the Holy Spirit in this monumental decision is without question. So when you make a decision, do you pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit?
The Bible says, “Pray without ceasing.” That doesn’t mean folding your hands and closing your eyes while you drive down the road. It does reflect a “God conversation” that continues all the time. It is an active, ongoing relationship that guides everything for you. This posture toward God provides the context for Christian decision-making.
Another dimension of good decision-making is the advice Jesus gave in Matthew 6:24-34. This is fundamental: you can’t serve two masters. It is impossible to put God first and to put money or things first. Jesus’ follow-up to this discussion includes a reminder that preoccupation with things like food, drink, and clothing leads to worry. Worry clouds decisions. Faith — complete trust — in God clarifies decisions.
Jesus says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these other ‘things’ will be provided.” The King of this Kingdom is not Santa Claus, asking for a list of all the things you want. The King is promising that you will have everything you need. This is the framework for good decision-making.
This is excerpted from the September/October Church Doctor Report – Election Year: A Good Time to Wonder, “How Should Christians Make Decisions?”.
Kent R. Hunter has consulted hundreds of churches in North America and taught thousands of church leaders in a dozen countries. His 30 books are widely read with translations in six languages. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by email, Twitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.