Chapters 7-8 - How God Guides
I’m old enough to not only remember, but also own a copy of The Last Word on Guidance: a rather cheeky title that made it necessary for the ‘revised and updated’ version to have a whole new title. If you also have a copy of The Last Word and have been wondering where the differences are, well, they are in this section of ‘Guidance and the Voice of God’.
In particular on pages 94 and 95, the authors have added a few paragraphs reminding us of how liberating a biblical understanding of guidance is. It’s so true isn’t it? How much time and energy gets wasted while people look for God’s prompting outside the Bible when they could just get on with living in a godly way. If Gods greatest desire for our lives is for us to be reconciled to Him and to live lives of godliness, then surely it is more important for us to get on with doing that. Instead we tend to spend our time looking for signs to help us make decisions that do not have eternal consequences.
The other addition to this new version is a helpful explanation of the role of wisdom in our decision-making (pages 102ff). This is particularly important for decisions that are not matters of right and wrong, righteousness or unrighteousness, but are matters of good judgment.
I know many people struggle with the freedom God gives us, but I suspect that is because we are afraid of the consequences of our decisions (this gets talked about on pages 110-111). We look for the perfect and comfortable life now and want God to tell us what to do to minimise any potentially negative outcomes. We mistakenly think, “If God would just send me an email on where to go for holidays, then I could avoid getting the broken leg from the ski trip by choosing the beach trip instead”. But these extra-biblical signs do not exist, because the real choice we have to make is clearly in the Bible – the choice to be a godly person in the way we treat those around us on whichever holiday we choose (and to still be a godly person if we do end up with a broken leg!). Neither the beach nor the ski slopes is a more godly choice, although, as this additional category of wisdom shows, one may be wiser than the other. Each person’s situation and circumstances mean that applying wisdom may give different results. For example the ski holiday may place one person into a debt that would cause them to be a financial burden on others, so they should go to the nearby beach that is cheaper, while the beach holiday may place another person into situations of temptation that mean they would be wiser to go skiing.
So we see that wise and unwise choices involve viewing the world from God’s point of view and working out the best course of action while considering the circumstances unique to your situation.
In the next post, my plan is to give a summary diagram that I find helpful for understanding God’s view of guidance. If you are a structural thinker like me, you might like to have your own go at doing this before Thursday and we can compare notes.