Life is a succession of decisions, punctuated by choices leading to pleasure or pain. Proverbs 16:9 tells us that the mind of man plans his way. Ephesians 5:15 admonishes us to be careful or circumspect in how we walk. We are instructed to walk in wisdom. Each day we make multiple practical choices beginning with what time we get up and when to go to bed, what to eat, what to wear, how to treat others and handle responsibilities, what to give our attention to, what to meditate on, and what we do with the time and resources we have today. All of these are gifts from God that He desires us to steward wisely and carefully so that we can, as Ephesians 5:16 says,“make the most of our time.”
God is good, all good, so everything he calls us to choose is ultimately for our good and pleasure. He does not call us to a life of regret, but of abundance and fruitfulness. But let’s be clear. This does not mean that all wise decisions lead to immediate gratification. In fact, many wise decisions require us to delay gratification to gain a superior gratification. There are various themes in the book of Proverbs that highlight this: invest instead of spend, work instead of sleep, diligence instead of shortcuts, sharing instead of hoarding or stealing, speaking truth instead of lying to get out of trouble, purity and virtue instead of sinful pleasure and immorality.
God’s Word repeatedly promises His goodness in fuller measure if we choose wisdom, but it warns of discipline and hardship if we choose foolishness. We must remain convinced that wise decisions will lead to a superior satisfaction no matter the initial cost, while foolish decisions will lead to a painful end no matter the initial pleasure. This is key to remaining wise.
Below are listed five characteristics of those who make poor decisions. When determining what is best in a tough or tempting situation, read through each and ask yourself, “Could my decision in any way imitate any of these five poor decision makers?” This can help you avoid the misery of foolish choices and instead experience the goodness of God through wise decision making.
The fool chooses first and thinks later. Fools do not seek biblical guidance or wisdom on decisions. They may even choose against the counsel of wise advisers in their life, and even against “common sense” to attain their selfish desires. This approach reveals an idol of the heart and is often based on immediate gratification. Fools do not trust in the Lord, nor do they believe that following His will, in the end, will make them happiest. They seek material, emotional, or relational pleasure and relief outside the counsel of the Word and will of God (Prov 1:7, 10:14, 12:15).
The “Spiritualizing” Fool
These fools make unwise decisions and then justify themselves by claiming it is God’s will. They may even say that the Holy Spirit led them to do this even though it is clearly an unbiblical decision in a relationship, purchase, or manner of life. They go against wisdom and prudence based on a number of wrong views on knowing the will of God. For example, they believe God speaks outside of His Word directly to them, or that favorable circumstances prove a decision to be the will of God. They have the same heart as that of a fool, but it is cloaked in false spirituality and unbiblical theology (Rom 1:22).
The indecisive person cannot decide between two good options, fearing either one may end up being the “worst” choice. The potential good and the potential risk of each seem too close for them to make a call, resulting in passivity and non-decision. They do not decide at all, or not in a timely manner. Unfortunately and unintended, their fear of making the perfect decision leads them to reaping the same harvest as that of a sluggard, because they neglected to act responsibly before God as His steward in a timely manner. Their carefulness in a decision actually reveals an idolatrous desire for perfection, and an inordinate desire to avoid discomfort or suffering in a given area. They must accept that wise and obedient decisions do not necessarily lead to earthly comfort or success, but they always please God, and this always leads them to greater internal and eternal comfort and success by God’s definition of success (Ps 1).
The Lazy & Distracted
The lazy and distracted know what is the wise choice, but they do not follow through or execute the plan. They may talk much about needing to do or plan how to go about doing, but never get to it (Prov 14:23). They often want quick results (Prov 21:5) and are feeling-oriented (Prov 19:24; 26:15). They must nurture faith in the Word of God, and meditate on clear pictures of future pleasure from God, both in the next season of life and in the eternal pleasures of heaven, to motivate greater diligence in knowing and doing the will of God now in neglected areas of their life (2Pet 1:3-11; 1Tim 4:10). This will most effectively be done by maintaining accountability friendships with those who are strong in faith-motivated decision making vs. feeling-oriented decision making (Prov 13:20; Heb 10:24-25; 3:12-13; Php 3:17)
The Independent & Boastful
The independent decision maker is inflexible, perfectionistic, proud and often prayerless in decision-making, planning and executing (Jas 4:13-16). This person is more concerned about following self-focused plans and goals (results-orientation) than in accomplishing the ultimate goal of goals, to glorify God and to love others (God-and-others orientation) in the process (1Cor 16:14; 1Tim 1:5; 1Cor 13:1-4). Success or failure in any endeavor ultimately comes from the mouth of the Most High and not from our own efforts (Lam 3:37-38; Ps 127:1-2; Prov 3:5-6). The proud and independent person must make his ambition to please the Lord in the way he does things, not just to get things done to accomplish his own goals. In other words he should do the will of God in a fuller manner, both in the planning and in the process, leaving the results to God.
If you or someone you know is struggling with wise decision making, we are here to help. For further help:
Turning no one away, we are here to help. www.lcbcc.org