Each of us will be challenged to make important decisions in this coming year. These decision often impact our jobs, our families and even where we might be living. However, many of us will fall into a trap by using a process for making decisions that may not be biblical. The bible encourages us to make decisions based on obedience, not outcome. Yet, business people are challenged every day to make decisions that will impact the bottom line. Is there a precedent we find in scripture about how to make biblical decisions?
.Samuel replied: "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams (1 Sam15:22).
After owning and operating an ad agency for almost twenty years, I have discovered that there are by far two primary ways people make decisions today. First, the pro and con method is a system of lining up all the pros on one side, then all the cons on the other side. Whichever makes the most sense is the choice that is made. This makes logical sense to all of us.
The second method of decision-making is based purely on how the decision will affect us, otherwise known as an outcome-based decision. Many of us are guilty of being driven by outcome versus by what is right or by what God is saying. One cannot always determine how something is going to turn out on the front end. And, God will not allow a faith decision to be based on perceived outcome. This would cause all of us to make only outcome-based decisions. But, sadly, many Christians make such decisions every day. And, I must confess that as a businessman, I was driven to make decisions that were based on whether I would be financially impacted negatively or positively.
I am not saying that either of these methods does not have a part to play in the process of making a decision, but they should not to be the determining factors. For instance, I recall when my business was going through a lean time. I was losing money every month when I was invited to attend a Christian conference in
In the early Hebraic church wisdom was gained by obedience. Hebrews learned that wisdom was gained by knowing and doing the will of God and that it often did not line up with logic. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding (Psalms 111:10). However, as the church became impacted by the Greek culture through the influence of scholars like Socrates and Aristotle, knowledge-based systems became more influential in the way education was taught and applied. Greeks believed that the way to gain knowledge was based on reason and analysis.
As a result, the church over the centuries has moved into a more knowledge-based and programmatic system of operation, rather than obedience-based methods that are motivated by a heart fully devoted to following God.
Following are the primary differences between the Hebraic model and the Greek model of learning and applying Biblical knowledge. Mike and Sue Dowiewicz, authors of Restoring the Early Church, provide a comparison of the Greek influence versus the Hebraic influence.
Active - appeals to the heart Cognitive - appeals to the intellect
Obedience A Priority Information A Priority
Relationships are vital Controlled Groups emphasized
Transparency - love encouraged Service - activity-based
Mature Believers Produces Shallow Believers
Ultimately, God desires us to take the Hebraic approach when making decisions. He wants us to make decisions based on our heart's desire to follow Him. That means decisions are made based on obedience and there are times when they will not line up with logic. The apostle Paul serves as a great example for us.
In Acts 21, we find an interesting scene involving Paul, the disciples and a prophet named Agabus. It would appear that Paul was going against the Spirit's leading at first glance when we read about the encounter. First, the disciples had a revelation from the Spirit to urge him not to go to
Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to
When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to
So, does this mean we are not to make decisions using our intellect? Absolutely not. God gave us the capacity to reason and think. I believe He fully expects us to thoughtfully consider all aspects in the decision-making process. We should research the pros and cons of any decision. Jesus even encourages us to consider all the factors before we take on any new endeavor.
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, "This fellow began to build and was not able to finish" (Luke 14:28-30).
Fact gathering is an important part of the process for making Godly decisions. Joshua and Caleb were sent out ahead to spy out the land and report back what they found as a form of fact gathering. However, their decision to move forward against the counsel of the others appeared to the others to be an unwise decision. The difference was fear and faith entering into the equation.
Once we gather the facts, the final determining factor on whether we should do something is whether God has directed us to do it, not whether it makes sense.
If the fathers of our faith had made decisions purely based on reason and analysis do you think Moses would have brought the people to the edge of the Red Sea, or Joshua would have walked around the city of Jericho as a means of winning a battle, or Peter would have paid his taxes from a coin he got from a fish's mouth? I could go on and on with examples of how God confronted the intellect to test obedience. He performed miracles from the most bizarre situations that confronted the logic of His followers.
Someone once said that God is a very "pickiune" God. He is very picky. His instructions are to be followed exactly as they are given or we will suffer the consequences. Never is this principle more apparent than in the life of King Saul. Saul's life could best be described as one who was partially obedient. He obeyed God to a degree, but the areas where he disobeyed got him in trouble - even to the point of death.
But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away (1 Sam 12:24-25).
Saul disobeyed God and His appointed prophet Samuel on three distinct occasions that resulted in negative consequences for Saul and the nation of
When Saul first became king, he was instructed to wait for Samuel for seven days after they attacked the Philistines (see 1 Samuel 13:7-14). When Samuel was late, Saul decided to take things into his own hands and offered a burnt offering in order to gain God's favor for the coming battle. This was contrary to the instructions given by God through Samuel, in whom he was to give deference to as his spiritual authority. His disobedience resulted in a shortened reign for Saul.
The second time Saul disobeyed God was when he was instructed through Samuel to attack the Amalekites. He was told to destroy everything including the king, all the animals and other goods. Saul attacked them and destroyed everything except the king and his choice animals. When God tells Samuel that Saul has committed this evil, Samuel immediately confronted Saul. "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king" (1 Samuel 15:22-23). Saul then owns up to his sin and confesses he disobeyed because he was afraid of the people and gave in to their pressure. It is at this point Saul is rejected as king of
When I consider the life of Saul I realize that I have been like him many times throughout my Christian life. Saul was a religious man. He had a form of religion. He was obedient to a point, but it was the follow-through that got him into trouble. And that difference in complete obedience made God say some very hard things. And the Lord was grieved that He had made Saul king over
Remember what Solomon tells us in Proverbs regarding the balance between God's responsibility and ours: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5,6).