“Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.” 1 Chronicles 17:2
Ever experience paralysis by analysis? In the age of Google, Siri and Alexa, we have no shortage of access to all the information in the world. There is a big difference between accessing information and making wise decisions. For the Christian, we know that our primary guide for decision making should be a willingness to trust and follow God’s will. So, anytime you need to make a hard decision easily, just open up your Bible and find the verse that tells you what college you should go to, what job opportunity you should take, what city you should move in or whether or not you should propose to your girlfriend now or try to pay off your credit cards first. Easy right?
If you find the verse that gives us specific instructions, please let us know, because most of us haven’t found it yet. Seriously, God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (see Psalm 119:105), but it is not quite as specific as our GPS sensibilities would prefer. How do we make hard decisions easily? Perhaps this passage from 1 Chronicles 17 can offer some practical help.
David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), who earnestly loved God and desired the Lord’s will for his life. In this passage, David senses an inconsistency in his life… He is living in a house made of cedar, while the Ark of the Covenant is resting in a tent. In David’s heart, he longs to see God glorified more than anything else and he asks his friend, pastor and counselor Nathan whether or not he should begin a multimillion dollar, decades long endeavor to build God a temple worthy of His name (if that were even possible). To this huge question with national implications, Nathan gives a surprisingly simple answer- “Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.” 1 Chronicles 17:2
What if it really were that easy? If God is with you and your heart is surrendered to His Lordship, could it really be that simple? Yes! And… also, no. God does give us the freedom to do all that is in our heart to do… but He gives us a foundation and a framework to build our decision making process on. Let’s take a look at how to build a framework that makes hard decisions easy.
Building A Framework That Makes Hard Decisions Easy
1. Build on the Solid Rock: One of Jesus’ most well known sermon illustrations compares a man who wisely built his house on a rock with a man who foolishly built his house on the sand. “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” Matthew 7:24. Any person who wants to begin making wise decisions in their lives must commit to trusting in Jesus, believing God’s Word and obeying the explicit commands of Scripture. 90% of all decisions can be made clear by choosing to build your life on rock or Christ Jesus.
2. Commit to a Process of Spiritual Discernment: There are many Godly men and women whom have created a pattern and a process for spiritual discernment. Based on a number of resources, here is a pattern that you may find helpful.
Four Discernment Questions for Godly Decision Making:
1. Does it Magnify the Glory of Christ? Any Spirit-led decision will ultimately point our attention to the beauty and glory of Jesus Christ. If it is clear that a decision you are considering does not honor God, there is no further reason to consider the decision, no matter how you may be feeling.
2. Does it align with the clear teaching of Scripture? God’s Spirit will never contradict God’s Word. If the decision is leading you to act or move in a direction the Bible prohibits or teaches against, you can dismiss that as a possibility.
3. Do Bible-believing, Spirit-filled friends, counselors and mentors affirm and support the decision? Echo chambers are easy to find in our world of blogs, social media and online groups, so it is vitally important that you invite strong believers who value Biblical fidelity over cultural sensitivity to weigh into your decision making process.
4. What spiritual fruit will this decision produce within you and those impacted by your choice? Will this inspire you and others to greater levels of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control? These fruits of the Spirit are an evidence that you are walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh (see Galatians 5:13-26).
If you can work through this process of discernment and believe that there are still more than one option or choice before you, you can take comfort in this affirmation from the prophet Nathan.
3. Do What Your Heart Desires: Yes, it is true that our hearts can deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9) and that we should guard our hearts above all else (Proverbs 4:23), but if we can confidently say we have built our lives on the rock of Christ and we have worked through the process of spiritual discernment, than the instruction is clear- “Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.” 1 Chronicles 17:2. David himself put it this way, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4. God is a good Father and He has empowered you to make decisions within the boundaries of His loving commands.
So, that’s it then, right? Well, one more thing… back to the story of David and Nathan and the multimillion dollar construction project. Nathan essentially told David, “God has given you a green light to move forward on this project.” Then, that very same night, the Lord came to Nathan and said, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: It is not you who will build me a house to dwell in….” 1 Chronicles 17:4. God goes on to explain to Nathan that He has another plan in mind, for David’s son (Solomon) to be the one to build the Temple. What is the take-away from this story?
4. Do What Your Heart Desires Unless God Directs You Differently: Sometimes, you may follow the process of discernment, make a decision to go in a certain way and then the Lord nudges you (or knocks you!) in a different direction. In those moments, do not question yourself (or God), live with doubt or wallow in regret, but instead embrace the beautiful reality that God is actively working your life to accomplish His purposes and plans for you. God is in control, and He has an eternal reason for everything that He does or doesn’t do.
Whatever the outcome of your decision making process, never stop believing in the loving nature of your Father’s heart for you. May you also, like David be able to say, “For the sake of your servant, O LORD, and according to your will, you have done all these great things and have made them known.” 1 Chronicles 17:9