Sometimes I wonder if most of our anxiety comes from having to make decisions. What if I make the wrong choice? Who might judge me if I choose to do this? If you are a Christian...what is God's will for my life? How do I truly begin to hear from God and make decisions in the Christian life? So often our prayer requests are all about the "wisdom" we need to make a certain life decision or handle a scenario the Lord has put in front of us. If we are honest, sometimes each option seems fine, and we are left internally crying out..."WHAT DO I DO?"
The bible says in James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." The question that I was always left asking was "okay so how do I actually get access to this wisdom I ask for?". That's the question I want to address today.
I'd like to suggest a practical method based on principles from the bible on how to make decisions. The bible actually has a whole genre dedicated to "wisdom literature". Most popular is the book of Proverbs. This book is full of short and helpful bits of wisdom from God through Solomon and some other authors. Proverbs says over 15 times something like "wisdom is found in a multitude of counselors". Here are a few examples...
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.
Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.
The Proverbs give a high regard to the idea of one being open to advice, wisdom and they tell us exactly where it is found...in many counselors. I Don't think we are meant to live the Christian life alone...not make decisions in isolation. So here's the short answer...how do you access the wisdom of God he so promises? Through his Spirit...but how does that happen...through his Spirit filled people! These principles of wisdom still apply! Odds are that God is not going to write the answer in the sky, most often he gives us wisdom through the people of God.
The process I have used to live in line with this principle may seem a bit radical...but time and time again it has proven faithful and given us peace in making decisions. This may seem tedious, bu this process is a great way to engage with God over medium to large decisions that you truly desire wisdom on. Things that can affect your future and make changes to yourself and those around you. (caveat, my desire is not to be legalistic here, but to give you a process to consider that can help based in prudential wisdom.)
Find a way to get in a room with believers you know and trust.
Believers who are filled with the Spirit are critical to this process, for they alone can discern the wisdom of God and know his scriptures. Ideally you have everyone together which allows for us to hear and learn from the collective wisdom in the room. Someone else might know something that I don't and after hearing their wisdom it could change how I give my own! This also helps avoid us in our sin steering and manipulating the one off conversations to go the way we want. It helps keep us accountable to the truths of the situation.
Ideally choose believers that know you, you know love you, and even who know some of your sin patterns and struggles that might be influencing your decisions.
Follow James 1, and together plead with the Lord to give the room wisdom and guide us to the right scriptures and principles that can lead you to a decision that very night! Ask in faith as the next verse says trusting that he wants to guide you in accordance with his will! Pray specifically that the Lord would guide the room to unity and agreement on what is right and pleasing to him.
Explain to them the decision you need to make
Try your best to be impartial and explain the necessary facts they need to know to help give you informed advice.
Leave room for them to ask clarifying questions.
Be quiet and listen!
Your job is now done, sit back and listen as people give input and speak into the situation. You are uniquely listening for consensus, that is likely where the Spirit is providing wisdom. Test everything against the word of God and don't be afraid to ask "can you explain what verse is informing your advice?"
Take note of the weight in which each person gives their counsel. Do they really believe something is best, or are they just sharing an opinion?
Trust that the Lord has worked.
If you hear consensus, as hard as it is, especially if it might not be what you originally wanted...trust that this process has helped you to hear from the Spirit of God through the people of God and listen! The Spirit knows things that no man or woman can, and so if the Spirit reveals wisdom through the room, even if it doesn't make sense, trust in the Spirit's wisdom.
This is a really great reason to be involved in something like a Fellowship Group or Discipleship Group. Having a group of believers who know and love you who are filled with the Spirit to ask for wisdom is an amazing asset for the Christian life! If you don't have those people in your life, please reach out to one of our pastors so they can help!
I know this might seem really specific and it is certainly not the only way to find wisdom from God, but this process has served me really well over the years. I'd encourage you to consider giving it a try or finding some way to access the wisdom of God through his people and not just our own feelings which can be led astray by our sin.
"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere." (James 3:17)