An Independent Study on Decision Making in the Bible.
We have numerous examples of decision making in the Bible. Please go through a few and then see if you can see some principles that seem to rise to the surface to help you as an individual in developing a Biblical approach to decision making.
“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (Gen 4:3-7).
In the above passage, we find that God expects man to take personal responsibility for his decisions. Cain chose on his own to disregard the proper way to approach God through sacrifice. He then was angry at others for God accepting their sacrifice and not his sacrifice. God was not pleased with Cain’s lack of acceptance of his decision making. A believer must “own” his good decision making and bad decision making. There will be times that a bad decision is made. A believer needs to analyze why he made that bad decision and see if there is a way to avoid that the next time that similar situation arises.
a. How have you made good decisions?
b. How have you made bad decisions?
c. What tendency makes you try to cast blame on others?
“And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf. And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:) Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him” (Exodus 32:21-26).
Most are familiar with the excuse making of Aaron to his brother, Moses. Moses did not even seem to respond to his brother’s silly response. This can be helpful for us that lead others. Sometimes, there is no response to silliness, but action may need to still be taken. The action that Moses wanted taken was drastic and harsh. Others may not like your decisions, but ultimately we need to be have clear lines drawn for God’s side.
a. Have you had an Aaron moment in your life? Explain in writing how you may have excused an action.
b. Are there lines that need to be drawn in your life for the Lord’s side? List the areas and the Scriptures that will help you be firm in your stand.
“And they returned from searching of the land after forty days. And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:25-33).
Caleb and Joshua were two men who believed God in spite of a lot of opposition. The winds of opinion and peer pressure may surface when decisions have to be made. Caleb was able to separate those winds and hear the voice of the Lord. This is a great quality to have in one’s life. We should desire to be steadfast to the call of God in our life.
a. Can you list out other men in the Bible who were able to stand against strong opposition?
b. What do you see in Caleb’s life and other’s that you found in Scripture that seemed to help them be strong in adversity?
c. What should you put in place in your life to make sure to not “buckle” under the pressure of wrong?
“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:14-15).
Joshua reveals to us that leading others and your own personal life and family may veer in differing directions sometimes. We cannot control everyone else’ life, but we can control our own life and family. This is important in decision making and helping our family see that God has made individuals with a free choice. We cannot force our will onto everyone else. However, those within our own house can be made to obey God’s way. This is important in rearing those children that are in our house. We must make sure that our children see the Biblical directives that are guiding the family.
a. Have you had to make choices that differ from other families? In practices / In acquaintances / In entertainment options.
b. How have you helped your children avoid a judgmental attitude when seeing differing opinions in family units?
“And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her” (Ruth 1:14 -18).
Ruth is a great example of making the right decsion. There may be some odd applications that one may read into this passage. For instance, she only wanted to follow her mother-in-law to get Boaz. Another silly application would be “always stick with family.” These are not the right application of Scriptural study. However, we find that Ruth did stick with family, in some way. She also ended up getting a wonderful husband by making the right choice. This is putting the “cart before the horse.” Ruth in the above passage was obviously first choosing Jehovah to be her God. By choosing God, she then made the other decisions in her life. This passage shows us that priorities in decision making are very important.
a. Have you set some priorities that help you in decision making?
b. Have you compromised those priorities in recent decisions? How have you justified those change in priorities?
“And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded: 2 And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you” (II Chronicles 15:1-2).
“And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD. And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him” (II Chronicles 15:8 -9).
King Asa is a great example of restoring to God what truly belongs to Him. There may be times that we may not actually be the cause of wrong that is going on around us, but we may have inherited the problem or stepped into the problem. King Asa is written for those times. The decision may be hard to do, but we must restore what is right. It may have to be at small intervals, but the Scriptures must be preeminent in our lives and in those areas that we have influence. This could be in the home, in the ministry you serve in or in a limited way at the place that you work. Don’t hesitate to do what’s right even if you are not the cause. Restore the right and see God’s hand on your life.
a. Have you inherited some area that seems to out of line with God? List a few areas.
b. What lessons have you learned in taking steps to restore a Biblical way of thinking to areas that have fallen from sound Biblical judgment?
“A Prayer of David. Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips. Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal. Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech” (Psalm 17:1 -6).
David seems to indicate that the lips of a Christian have a tendency to be deceitful. This can be true in decision making also. We must weigh the words that come out of our mouth. In times of adversity, you will find that there can be a tendency to be “loose” with the lips. In the Bible, you see Job praying that God would help his tongue. You see this also expressed in the passages on troubling times in the book of 1 Peter. We must be careful not to allow our flesh allowance to speak rashly when we are in tough times.
a. Have you found that the tongue is hard to control when trouble comes?
b. What are some ways that you can put a guard on the tongue for these times?
c. What other examples (good and bad) can you find in Scripture to help in seeing this trend?
“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:66-69).
Peter reveals to us that decision making ultimately is finding that Christ is all in all. For the believer we must find that Christ is our life. The Apostle Paul found this to be true in Colossians 3. When Christ is our life, the sacrifice of losing acquaintances along the way will dim to pleasing the eye of our Savior. Peter felt the shame of this wrong choice later on when he cursed and denied his Savior. The eye of Christ came upon Peter and he went out and wept bitterly. We must learn to find Christ’s mind on an issue before stepping out on our own.
a. Have you found that peer pressure seems to affect your decision making?
b. What type of decisions to you seem to want to please others rather than your Savior?
c. What are some things you can put in place to avoid this action?
“And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:12-13).
Paul reveals to us that sometimes our decisions do not always have a physically “happy” ending. Paul was heading to Rome, eventually, to give his life for Christ. His decision was not on the temporal but the eternal. We find this recorded for us in probably the last words penned by Paul in 2 Timothy 4 when he says that he is ready to be offered, but he has fought a good fight and has finished his course. Oh, that our decisions would be at such a heavenly direction that we could endure some physical hardships to finish the course that our Savior has for us.
a. What are some of the temporal things that seem to steer your decision making?
b. List a couple of Biblical examples on those that chose the temporal over the eternal in choices.
c. List a couple of Biblical examples on those that chose the eternal over the temporal in choices.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:8-13).
Abraham teaches us another important lesson in decision making. This is that clarity of the “end game” is not always there. Abraham ventured out not knowing where he went. This is very important sometimes when we are wanting the next 5, 10, 15 or 20 years laid out for us before we will step out in faith. Sometimes, God may have us step out and then even change directions in our steps. The Psalmists says that the “steps” of a good man are ordered by the Lord. This may mean that sometimes the steps may change to another pathway.
a. Have you seen an area in your life that God only showed you a piece of the puzzle? Explain how this was difficult for you.
b. Look up some other men in the Bible who only saw partially what God was trying to do.
Example – Joseph, Job, etc…