Jesus’ Model for Decision Making

We all desire to make wise decisions, so it is best to look at the actions of Jesus to understand our decision making strategy.

Jesus Made a Choice: this is the key to decision making. We arrive where we are right now because of the decisions we have made over the years, and even today. So the first step is easy, simply choose to choose.

Jesus Withdrew from Others: if we want to make a godly decision, we should get away from worldly influences. Jesus withdrew and spent time in prayer, and thinking through his choices. He often spent time alone before making significant decisions.

Jesus Prayed About it: if prayer was necessary for Jesus, how much more for us? Ask for God’s wisdom (James 1:5), and maybe even fasting to your praying (Isaiah 58:8-9).

Jesus was Obedient: he made decisions based on the Word of God (John 4:34). Perhaps we would have the commitment to obey God more than our drive to eat. When we think about our commitment to obedience, most of our decision are decided ahead of time.

Jesus Told Others What He Decided: when we tell others, it seems to solidify our decision. Opposition and criticism may come but we must make our decisions known.

Developing Spiritual Discernment

The longer one is a follower of Jesus Christ, the greater one should have spiritual discernment, which is the ability to determine right from wrong, good from evil, this direction or that.

Discernment does not come by flipping a coin and saying “heads or tails,” and it doesn’t completely rely on common sense or the conscience. Spiritual discernment is a gift from God and comes to us through the Holy Spirit, who dwells in every authentic Christian. It is the supernatural ability to “know” something not because of personal knowledge or experience, but because of personal time spent with God in prayer and time spent in his Word.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:5–7)

The ability to know God and discern his will for your life comes through…

Salvation: Spiritual things can be discerned only by the indwelling Holy Spirit. When you trust Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you have met the prerequisite for knowing the mind of Christ. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:15–16).

Scripture: As you study Scripture, you learn how God works in the lives of His people. Understanding God’s principles gives you a basis for knowing how He is working in your life today.

  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise (Psalm 111:10).
  • These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:11).

Situations: Are you focusing on God’s will for your future? Instead, focus on God’s purpose in your present situation, and trust Him with your future. God always has a personal will for you, and your responsibility is to adjust to what He is doing in your life right now. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:33–34).

Surrender: Are you surrendering to what God wants to do in your life today? Pray to be moldable clay in the Potter’s hand, allowing God to mold and shape you into the vessel of His choosing. O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does? declares the LORD. Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel (Jeremiah 18:6).

Servanthood: Have you given up ownership of your own life? When your heart is willing to be God’s servant no matter the cost, He will reveal His plan for you. No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? (Matthew 6:24–25).

Testing our Decisions

How does one know if they are making the right decision, it may be more practical than you think. From God’s perspective, decisions are not to be determined by random selection, supernatural events, people’s opinions, delay tactics, analytical thinking, or good feelings. God wants you to measure your decisions by his standards. Rather than testing God, test yourself using these Scriptures:

Scriptural Test: Has God already spoken about it in His Word? All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Maybe marrying a nonbeliever in hopes of drawing the spouse to Christ even though 2 Corinthians 6:14 says not to be yoked together with unbelievers.

Secrecy Test: Would it bother me if everyone knew this was my choice? The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity (Proverbs 11:3). Perhaps like, thinking no one is hurt by keeping an overpayment of returned cash or credit.

Survey Test: What if everyone followed my example? Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12). Perhaps like assuming a little trash tossed out the car window will never be noticed on a busy highway.

Spiritual Test: Am I being people-pressured or Spirit-led? Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10). An example might be volunteering for an assignment but doing it for the show of others, not as a confirmation that God wants you to do this.

Stumbling Test: Could this cause another person to stumble? It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall (Romans 14:21). Maybe having an alcoholic drink in a public place could cause this stumbling of others.

Serenity Test: Have I prayed and received peace about this decision? Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6–7). Maybe we decide to make any major change without praying and waiting on God’s peace for confirmation.

Sanctification Test: Will this keep me from growing in the character of Christ? We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). Perhaps you are failing to obey God when He prompts you to do something that is difficult or burdensome.

Supreme Test: Does this glorify God? Live as children of light…and find out what pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:8, 10). Perhaps you are conforming to the world’s standards by living a lifestyle of indebtedness.

A final reminder can be this: Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Ways We Make Decisions

How do people come to make godly decisions that honor him? I recently read this from June Hunt that lists six methods of decision-making:

What Are Six Methods of Decision Making?

If you could, wouldn’t you want to know the future? If you could see the outcome, wouldn’t it make your decisions a lot more accurate? Today people seek guidance through a variety of occult practices. They search for answers in newspaper columns, carnival booths, and psychic hotlines. Astrologers, palm readers, and fortune-tellers toting tarot cards all claim to speak for God, but the God of the Bible says these dramatic ways are “detestable” (Deuteronomy 18:9). He warns us…

  • Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:31)
  • There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 14:12)

Making decisions can be approached in various ways, but most will fall into one of the following six methods or a combination of some of them. Not all methods of decision-making will prove to be profitable.

Dramatic Method: Some people misuse Scripture by flipping open the Bible and pointing to some random Scripture for guidance without considering the context. Others expect God to come through with a spectacular, supernatural sign that will give proof of His will in a given situation. God says … The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26).

Defaulting Method: Scripture tells us there is an appropriate time to delegate duties and to seek counsel, but ultimately we are responsible for our own choices. We can even be so pressured by the opinions of others that it becomes easier just to let others make decisions for us … even when we think they are wrong. God says … He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right (Isaiah 7:15).

Delaying Method: Many people choose to procrastinate when a decision is due, hoping that “it will all come out well in the end.” They allow circumstances to determine the outcome. However, not to decide is actually a decision. Their delay tactics are filled with superfluous activities that do not include placing a high priority on knowing God’s will through prayer, biblical counsel, and intimacy with the Lord.  God says … That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways’ (Hebrews 3:10).

Deductive Method: The Christian life is to be a life of balance between human deduction and spiritual insight. If we become solely analytical in thinking through a situation and choose to rely completely on logic, we will miss God’s way. God says … My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways (Isaiah 55:8).

Desirous Method: Too many people allow their emotions to have “soul control.” This means allowing feelings to determine their behavior. God gave us emotions, but He never intended emotions to be our “decision makers.” Many of us don’t even realize that we often have an “if it feels good, it must be good” mentality. God says … He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe (Proverbs 28:26).

Discerning Method (the best method): To be discerning is to grasp what may not be evident, that is, “to have insight and understanding by going beyond what seems obvious.” Spiritual discernment, therefore, is wisdom to determine what is true, appropriate, and superior in the eyes of God, regardless of how things may seem. God says … The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).