Purchase the CD of this sermon.
We all make choices in life. The decisions we make can determine the course of our future, and shape who we become. At times it can be hard to know which path is the right one, but as rational human beings created in God's image, we have the power and freedom to choose. Every decision is an act of self-sacrifice — when we pick something one thing over another, we're inherently rejecting everything else that comes along with it. When we make our choice, our choice turns around and makes us.
More From This Series
…. a step in the right direction. I think this is a subject deserving of a couple of weeks of attention. I know that many of you, at this very moment, are making decisions. Some of you are making decisions about a relationship you’re in. Some of you are making decisions about your future college education. Some of our congregation are considering Bible college and seminary.
There are a number of things going on in the life of our congregation that reminds me, as a pastor, and also as a pilgrim, that you and I need to get God’s mind on how to make wise and good decisions. And therefore, I want to come to Proverbs chapter three verses five and six. We’ll use them as a springboard across this wonderful book in the Bible. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean out on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he shall direct your steps or your paths.”
The late evening news, in April of 1988, carried a story regarding a skydiving photographer who had jumped from an airplane to photograph some skydivers as they fell on formation and then opened their parachutes. The telecast showed the skydivers falling in formation, and then the parachutes all opened, and then suddenly, the picture on the telecast went blank and black.
And the newscast anchor that evening reported that the cameraman who was shooting the footage had actually fallen to his death. Further investigation revealed, can you believe this, that as he reached for his rip cord on the dissent, he realized that he had jumped out of the aircraft without a parachute. So intent was he in reaching his goal of filming these skydivers, that he neglected himself to do something that was crucial to the saving of his own life.
Now, as I read that story and decided to incorporate it into my message this morning, it seemed hard for me initially to believe that anybody could do that, to find oneself in such a precarious situation and actually dive out of an aircraft, absent-minded of the fact that you forgot to harness on your parachute. But upon further reflection, we would do well to remember, would we not, that if we’re not careful, we can make a similar mistake. You and I can get so caught up in life, and the next thing that we think is going to bring us some fulfillment, success, or significance, that we fail to do those things that we’ll save of our lives in the end.
Think about this. Every day, you and I face something far riskier than skydiving because while our story is about skydiving, it’s really about choices. And you and I, on any given day, face something far riskier than skydiving and that is choice itself. As rational human beings created in the image of God, you and I have the power and the liberty to choose one path over another, to invest ourselves in one way and disinvest ourselves from other ways.
To put it in a very memorable fashion, in a way, every act that you and I do is an act of self-sacrifice. For when we choose anything, we reject automatically everything else, just as when we marry one woman, we give up on all the others. Choice is that powerful. Choice is that pervasive. It is an act of self-sacrifice. Think about it. When you come to choose something, you’re choosing to reject everything else.
Choice, then, is both sacred and scary. It is part of the glory and the terror of being a human being, and it means that you and I can miss life the way one can miss a boat. In fact, that has become part and parcel of our language, hasn’t it. He missed the boat. Well, you and I can miss life just as one can miss the boat, and it all depends upon choice.
If you think about it, and I want you to think about it, you are to a large extent what you have decided to be this morning. I know you’re talking about your circumstances, and you’re talking about the hand you were dealt and what others have done to you. But if you really think about it, you are what you’ve decided to be. You choose your attitude. You choose the path that you are going to take in life. There might be extenuating circumstances, but at the end of the day, you and I choose who we want to be. You are who you are, where you are, what you are doing and how you are feeling this morning, and it’s because of the accumulated results of your choices, good or bad, ill timed or poorly reasoned.
That’s a powerful thought. That’s why I want to speak on this subject for two weeks because we are the sum of our decisions, and therefore, our decisions are vital, critical. Heaven and hell swing in the balance of choice. Truth and error, right and wrong, happiness and misery are all the result of choices. Decision-making determines who and what we are more than any other aspect of our life. I know there are circumstances, and you have to deal with others, but more than anything in life, it is you and your decisions that will determine the direction and the depth of your life. When we make our choice, our choice turns around and makes us.
Every act is an act of self-sacrifice. You are choosing one thing over another. In choosing one thing, you are rejecting everything else. When you’re in a Stone Cold Creamery, it really doesn’t matter other than where it might land around your midriff. But other than that really doesn’t matter, but there are choices you and I make on a daily basis that actually direct the very trajectory of our future.
Listen to what C.S. Lewis wrote. Quote, “Every time you make a choice, you are turning that central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature, or into a hellish creature, either into a creature that is in harmony with God, or else into one that is in a state of war and antagonism with God.”
Friends, when we make a choice, we’re giving something of ourselves over to that choice, and that choice is going to shape and mold us for good or bad. It’s going to invite the blessing of God, or it’s going to invite the judgment of God. It’s going to make our life better than it was, or it’s going to put us behind the eight ball, metaphorically speaking. Skill for living then requires an ability to act wisely, doesn’t it? And that in itself requires good decision-making, for life is made up of choices, and our choices determine the quality of our lives.
So I don’t know about you, but I need to know, this morning, how to make wise’s choices. And I know you do too. And I’m thankful for the Book of Proverbs because it’s going to help us to do that. We need to make good decisions over bad decisions, and we need to remember that one bad decision can undo a lot of good decisions. That’s how powerful and potent choice is. You can spend months making good decisions, and on a given day, make a bad decision, and undo in a day what you’ve done in months.
Let me give you a biblical example, Moses. A solitary act of disobedience dramatically shaped the remaining course of his life. And if you know your Bible, you know what I’m talking about. Back in Numbers chapter 10… or 20, verses eight through 12, you have the story of the wilderness wanderings of Israel. They were thirsty, and so they complained to Moses. And Moses prayed to God, and God said to Moses, “Okay, I want you to go to that rock there, and I want you to speak to it. And that rock’s going to become a fountain.”
Now Moses was agitated, angry with the people, a little out of sorts. He took a staff, and he hit the rock twice. He struck it twice. And the water came forth, but God said to Moses, “Okay, Moses. Because you didn’t hallow my name in the eyes of the people, because you didn’t obey me… I told you to speak to the rock, not hit the rock. You’re not going to enter the Promised Land.” Folks, it wasn’t the striking of the rock. That seems, in a sense as an act, vary inconsequential. The striking of the rock was disobedience in regards to God’s word, and that had lasting consequences.
Here’s what you and I need to remain ourselves of this morning. When we are faced with the choice to obey or disregard the commands of the living God, we enter into a moment that is filled with lasting consequences. And some of you are hanging in the balance of choice. And you want to do something, but your conscience doesn’t want you to do it. And the word of God speaks against it, and you are in a moment that is something that holds consequences that are lasting in your life. Choice is powerful and potent. And I need wisdom from a book of wisdom, regarding it.
Now, I could go into my text now or go into the text I want us to look at, but I want you to hang in for a couple of more minutes as I extend this introduction because we have realized how important and influential choice is, how critical decision-making is to life. It’s singularly important. In fact it’s determinative. Our decisions are made, and our decisions make us. We are, to a large extent, what we have decided to be.
And choice is inescapable. You’re going to have to make choices. The road of life will take you to many intersections and crossroads, and it’s an inescapable fact of life. And it’s part and parcel of our humanity. Made in the image of God, we have mind and reason. You and I have got to reason our way through to a choice. It’s part of the glory, as I said, and the terror of being a human being. That is inescapable, and it is determinative. And therefore, I want to say to you, my flock, this morning, that you have got to get ready to make good choices in life. And if you’re not ready then you better be all ears, and you better be back next Sunday morning to hear how to make wise choices.
That frightens some of us. Some of us are quite indecisive when it comes to making choices, and that can hold up God’s blessing in our life. And it certainly can waste precious time. And I want to remind you, should you be fearful and indecisive, and you stand frozen this morning at some intersection in your life, that if you don’t make a decision, you have made a decision. Not to make a decision is a decision. It’s passivity. It’s indifference. It’s indecision.
That’s not a good way to live because life rushes on, and life will push us down its path to these intersections. We have got to be ready to make wise choices. The only thing that arrives at its destination by accident in life is our airline luggage. Everything else has got to be determined. Everything else has got to be determined. You don’t live life accidentally. You’ve got to make wise’s choices in the will of God. Not to decide in life, is to decide against life.
See, unlike our pagan neighbors and the lost people that we mix with on any given day, the Christian man or woman doesn’t believe in blind fate. The Christian should never sing Que Sera, Sera, Whatever Will Be, Will Be because we believe that all things are working together for our good in the hands of a sovereign determinant of God. And we need to make decisions in the light of his decisions. We have got to bend our will to his will. And understanding that we have been created in his image, we have got to live on purpose according to his purposes.
Then you and I are going to be wide open to the exciting adventure that life is, and we are going to live each day seeking to live out our God-given potential and purpose under God who seeks to help us make wise choices that play into his eternal possibilities for us. We are not puppets. We are man and women made in the image of God who are called upon to make decisions. And I want to remind you, you’ve got to be ready to make them, or else life will run you over or pass you by.
Give you an example. Comes from the former president Ronald Reagan. When he was a boy, his aunt took him to a cobbler’s shop to purchase him a handmade, hand-sewn pair of shoes. The cobbler asked young Reagan over the counter that day, “Do you want a square toe or a round toe on your shoes, son?” Well, Reagan hemmed and hawed. The cobbler said, “Okay, come back in a day or two, and let me know what you think.” A few days went by, and Reagan never really thought much more of it until the cobbler caught him on the street and said, “Young man, have you made up your mind? Square toe? Round toe?” And again, Reagan really dilly-dallied and give the man no answer.
So to his surprise, in a week or two, having not made his mind up, the cobbler called and said, “Your shoes are ready, young man. Come and collect them.” And Reagan went to the cobbler’s shop. And over the counter was handed a pair of shoes, one had a square toe and one had to run toe.
And Ronald Reagan said about that incident in his boyhood, quote, “Looking at those shoes every day taught me a lesson. If you don’t make your own decisions, somebody else will make them for you.” Isn’t that true? You got to make decisions under God, and ask God to help you make them, or else life will run you over or pass you by.
That’s why this admonition here to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths,” is so, so critical. So let’s come to the Book of Proverbs this morning. That was an extended introduction, but I wanted to underscore the critical nature and the influential impact of our decision-making.
Now the book of Proverbs is well suited to our needs this morning. This is a book that promises to give us skill for living. Life is all about choices. Therefore, I would expect this book to deal with choices and decision-making, and it does. In fact, there’s so much material in this book on it, I’m going to take the two weeks to cover them. And then, I won’t have exhausted it.
But here’s a book that in itself is all about choice because if you remember back to our introduction in the Book of Proverbs, this is a book that sets two paths in front of the young men who are emerging into leadership within Israel, the path of wisdom and the path of folly. And the Book of Proverbs uses what’s called antithetical parallelism, in terms of the form of these proverbs. You’ll find many, many Proverbs that use antithetical parallelism. That is their two ideas set side by side, and they’re the opposites of each other.
That’s why you’ll read about the wise man and the foolish man, and riches and poverty, and purity and immorality. The Book of Proverbs is all about contrasts and choices. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised that it would address the very issue of choice. In fact the word path and way, with its plurals, are found over a hundred times in this book. Wisdom is a path that you and I need to take in life, and it will help us when we get to the crossroads.
Now there’s four things I want to say. I’m going to give the game away up front, if you’re taking notes. Decision-making, moving in the right direction requires consecration, consultation, caution and consideration. We’ll cover two of them this morning, as time allows us.
It requires consecration. Now listen, this is vitally important. Guidance begins with who we are, ever before it becomes an issue of what we do. See, I think, too quickly, we get to, “Well, Lord, what do you want me to do? Is it this, or is it that? Is it him? Is it her? Is it that thing? Is it the other thing?” And that God says, “Hold on a minute. You’ve jumped the gun.”
Wisdom, in the area of decision-making, reminds us that it’s who we are that will determine what we do. And that’s why consecration to God, dependence upon God, becoming what God has called us to be, that’s where guidance begins. It is the right kind of person who ultimately will do the right kind of thing.
You will not do the right kind of thing if you’re not the right kind of person. That’s why your relationship with God, and the development of a godly character, and a commitment to God’s will are the most important things when it comes to decisions. In a sense, everything else is an extension of that, almost automatic in terms of the outworking of guidance.
You see, guidance doesn’t begin in some kind of search. I think many Christians have this idea. If I say the will of God, they immediately think of a needle in a haystack, or they immediately think of some key that’s been put, oh, under some mat somewhere, you got to go and find. And when you find the key, you’ll find the will of God.
That’s balderdash. It’s unbiblical. Guidance doesn’t begin in a search, some magic key that will unlock the top secret plan of God for your life. I’ll tell you where it begins. It begins with a heart that is wise to the way God wants things done and the way God does things himself. That’s what the guidance is all about. That’s why Bruce Waltke, in his commentary on Proverbs, will say this. “Wisdom, in the Old Testament, is a character trait. It is not simply thinking soberly. People with wisdom have the character whereby they will make good decisions.”
That brings me to look at two things quickly here, under the idea of consecration. If you and I are going to be consecrated to God and make wise decisions within his will, we will need character and we will need commitment. Character, a good choice is based upon a good character because the one flows out of the other.
You understand that? There’s a cause and effect. If you and I have a love for what is good, if you and I have a desire for what is godly, and you and I are governed by the word of God, submitted to the will of God, and being led by the spirit of God in the company of the people of God, you and I can have our confidence that what we’re about to do, God is pleased with because we have a heart that loves him and loves the things he loves.
That’s why character is so important. The best thing you can do with regards to seeking God’s guidance is to develop a godly character. What we are will always be the determining factor in what we do. The Bible reminds us that being is always first before doing. God chose David, didn’t he? And revealed his will to him because he had a heart after God. And he rejects Saul because his heart had become closed to God.
Direction in life is built upon the development of a godly character. In fact, Pastor McLaughlin, the pastor who has had probably the greatest influence in my life, my mentor back in Belfast, sent me an email recently and he said this. He’s on sabbatical, and so he’s been thinking about us and praying for us. And he wrote an email saying, “I have been thinking about you and praying for you in your spiritual journey. I hope that doesn’t sound too mystical to you, but the older I get, the more I’m convinced that God has greater purposes for our lives, not primarily in the employment of our gifts, but in the development of our character.”
That was a good word of wisdom to me this week. Sometimes we get fixated on where we are, and what we’re doing for God, and where we might be. And yet God’s more interested in where we are and what we’re doing with our lives at that given moment, what we’re becoming because it’s in what we’re becoming that the decisions about what we will do will be made and directed.
That’s why Proverbs says, in Proverbs four, verse 23, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it flows the issues of life.” One of those issues will be guidance and decision-making. Your heart will determine the direction of your feet. And so I want you to think about this. Guidance is not about your feet. It’s about your heart. Your feet will follow in the paths of your heart. That’s why you’ve got to, “Keep your heart, for out of it will flow the issues of life.”
And when I talk about your heart, I’m not talking about this pound of muscle that pumps blood through the body. I can lay that on a table in some doctor’s surgery. But the heart we’re talking about is the inner self, the inner being, the essence of who we are. It incorporates our mind. It incorporates our will. It incorporates our desire.
Someone has put it like this, “The heart is the command and control center of life, the birth canal of our motives, the seat of our affections, and the heart is the center of the conscience. It is truly the place where life makes up its mind.” Your heart determines what you do. Your inner traits and your inner thoughts determine your outward actions.
Jesus said that, “Out of the heart, the mouth speaks.” That’s why Jesus won’t let you off with that statement, “Well, I didn’t mean to say that.” Yes, you did. It came out of your heart. Out of the heart, the mind speaks. The heart is so vitally important. That’s why we’re told to keep it with all diligence. What do you think about? What do you desire in life? What are your passions? What do you give your energy and actions to? Those are the things that will determine the course of your life.
That’s why you need to think thoughts that glorify God. You need to submit your will to God’s will. You need to make your desire secondary to his and realize that in giving yourself to his pleasure, you will find the truest pleasure. If you delight in him, he will delight in you, and he will give you the desires of your heart. When your will becomes his, you will have found the secret to joy in life. That’s why we’ve got to guard our hearts.
Listen to what one old writer says. “The heart is the fountain of vital action. It is out of the good treasure of the heart that a good man brings forth good things, and out of the evil treasures of the heart and the evil man brings forth evil things. No actions can be good unless the heart is good, more than the fruit can be good when the tree is corrupt.”
Take a look at your thought life, what you desire and live for, the direction your life is headed. Is it godly? Is it eternal in its direction? Because you’ve got to guard your heart because the issues of your life will flow out of it. And if your heart is not oriented towards God, your feet will be pointed in the wrong direction.
You see, the legitimacy of our actions begins with the integrity of our hearts. Look at a couple of verses here with me. Proverbs 10, verse nine, Proverbs 10, verse nine, “He who walks with integrity, walks securely.” Is that not our issue this morning? “Hey, Pastor, I’m at an intersection. I’m at a crossroads. I would like to know, with some kind of assurance, that what I’m about to do is a safe thing, a good thing. It’s going to add to my life, rather than take away.” Well, here’s what it says. If you’ll walk in the integrity of your heart, you’ll walk with security.
The word integrity means wholeness. If your mind that is your thoughts, if your heart that is your desires, and your will that is your intent, are all subject to the thoughts of God the desires of God and the will of God, and you’re walking in harmony with him, you can walk securely.
In fact, that’s what I mean. Sometimes we obsess on this idea of the will of God. If your heart is right, and your conscience is clear, and the word of God is directing you, no decision will be a bad decision. This whole idea of being outside the will of God is a bogeyman, in a sense, to the people of God. If you keep your heart, from out of which flows the issues of life, and you walk in the integrity of your heart, your actions will always be legitimate and pleasing to God, in that sense.
Proverbs 11, verse three, “The integrity of the upright will guide him.” “The integrity of the upright will guide him.” If your mind is tuned and dialed into the will and mind of God, if your heart is in love with Jesus Christ, if your feet are walking in the path of his revealed truth that is his word, if you’re an upright man, a woman who desires to be holy, the integrity of your life will guide you. You can have a confidence about your decisions.
Look at verse five. “The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way aright.” If your heart is right, your feet will be pointed in the right direction. Good man do good things. Therefore, your greatest decision you can make about your decisions this morning is this. “You know what, Pastor? I’m going to pursue godliness and holiness and integrity of life like I never have. I’m going to bend my life and surrender it to Jesus Christ like I never have.” And I’ll tell you that as you spend time with him, walk closely with him, the integrity of your life will guide you, and the uprightness of your actions will deliver you from any folly.
Before we worry about where we’re going and what we’re doing, we need to be more anxious about what we’re becoming. That’s the biggest question this morning. The biggest question in your life is not, should you ask it to me, “Pastor, what does God want me to do?” The biggest question is, “What am I becoming?” Because what you are will determine what you do.
Our feet will never be pointed in the right direction if our heart is straying from God. The heart is the organ of decision. And when you are becoming what God wants you to be, you will find yourself doing what God wants you to do because of the chain reaction. There’s a cause and effect. Out of the heart, the issues of life come.
In the movie Regarding Henry, Harrison Ford plays a lawyer who was injured in a robbery. He was a cutthroat, dishonest, unfaithful husband and distant father from his daughter, but the accident caused him to lose his memory. And he got an opportunity, in a sense by implication, to start his entire life over again. And he did, and this time he was a totally different man. He made different choices. He acted out according to different values.
In fact, before he made these fresh set of choices, as I said, he was a cutthroat and ruthless lawyer who, in one case, suppressed evidence that would’ve awarded a poor family a medical malpractice settlement. And as the movie progresses, after recovering the importance of honesty and integrity, he quit his job. In fact, he went to that poor family, and he gave them the evidence he had suppressed. He told them that he would actually go to court and actually testify against himself.
The woman was dumbstruck standing on the doorstep of her home, being given this file of evidence, and she said, “I don’t get it.” I mean she remembered this ruthless, hard-boiled, materialistic lawyer who was out to make a buck for his master, rather than to see justice done. She said, “I don’t get it. What changed?”
And there’s a very telling point in the movie where he simply replies on the doorstep of her home, “I did. I changed. I made different choices. I lived according to different values, and I’m a different man.” See, what we are determines what we do. What we give our hearts to, what we give the center of our being over to will determine where we’re headed.
First character, second commitment, under this thought of consecration. Let me go a step further. You and I are to develop a godly character. And in the midst of developing a godly character, we need to offer obedient hearts to God. We’ve got to give our hearts over to God in an act of surrender, saying, “Lord, anytime, anywhere, anything, at any cost, if it’s what you want me to do.”
That’s what Proverbs three says. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. But in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path,” cause and affect again. If you’ll give him all of your heart, and you’ll acknowledge him, day by day, in all of your actions, you can be sure of this. You’re headed in the right direction. He’ll direct your paths. He’ll make his will known to you, and he’ll still do for you what you don’t know, that’s according to his will. It’s a great thought. You got to be a commitment.
God cannot lead those who are disobedient, and God will not lead those who are disobedient. Look, folks, have you ever tried to steer a stationary car? It’s very difficult to do, but it’s much easier to steer a car on the move. And when you and I give over the steering wheel to God, and he gets into the driver’s seat, and we get into the passenger seat or the back seat, and God stops being a spare tire in our life that we call upon in an emergency, if you and I give him the wheel and give him the seat, and you and I obey him, and our life heads in the right direction, you and I can be sure we’re headed into a future that God has planned for us. It’s a great thought.
Remember, guidance, just like prayer, is all about getting God’s will done on earth. It’s not about getting our will done in heaven. Listen to these words from Warren Wiersbe. In the Book of Proverbs, the wise father repeatedly gives his son loving calls to obedience. Proverbs three, verse one, “My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commandments.” In Proverbs 6:20, “My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake the law of your mother.” In Proverbs seven, verse one, “My son, keep my commands and treasure them within you.”
Now, here’s what Wiersbe says about those verses. It’s very telling. Please hear it. “The will of God isn’t a curiosity for us to study. It is a command for us to obey. God isn’t obligated to reveal his will unless we’re willing to do it.”
God’s will is revealed. It’s not a top secret. I can guarantee you nine decisions out of 10 are addressed in this book. It’ll tell you not who you should marry, as in Jane Doe, but it will tell you the kind of woman you should marry, her character, his character. It won’t tell you, “You know what? You’re going to work at [inaudible 00:34:23],” or “You’re going to work at some other factory,” but it will tell you how to work in those factories because it’s not a moral or immoral decision to work for either of those companies, unless they have a reputation for immoral actions themselves.
Those kind of things are not the issues the Bible addresses, and yet those are the kind of things you and I fixate on. But the Bible wants us to know that God’s will is revealed in his word as we read this book, as we guard our hearts and bring our lives to bear under its authority and commit ourselves to the doing of that will, you and I can be sure God’s going to lead us in our decisions, our safe and healthy decisions.
Jesus said, in John 7:17, “If anyone wants to do his will, he shall know concerning the doctrine.” But that’s the question. Do you want to do his will? If anyone wants to do his will, he’ll show them how to do it. He’ll reveal, through his word, what God wants that person to do. And so it’s an issue of commitment.
When you seek guidance from God, you must seek it as a servant, not as a lobbyist trying to bend God’s will to yours, but as one who, like Samuel of old says, “Lord, your servant is listening. Go ahead and speak.”
Now, I want to make a practical application on this, quickly. It’s based on Proverbs 16, verse three. You and I need to surrender our lives to the will of God. Yeah, I don’t want you to think about that in the big picture sense. I want you to think about it in the everyday small decisions that make up our life.
If you surrender every day to Jesus Christ, if you make good and wise decisions in the small things, that will have an accumulative effect. That will create a trajectory in your life that will give you direction and give you confidence in where you’re going.
Proverb 16, verse three says this. “Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.” The word commit there is a beautiful Hebrew word. It means to roll, to send those things in God’s direction. Your works is simply a way of speaking about everything you do. Give to God everything you do, it says. “Do everything you do for his glory,” I Corinthians 11:31. That’s the secret. That’s the secret.
Good decisions are based on a pattern of good decisions. Daniel Estes of Cedarville University, speaking in this tack, says, “The focus here is on practicing godliness in the daily choices of life, with the recognition that life is won and lost in the small decisions. It is the small decisions that guard the heart and establish the integrity of it, and therefore the heart becomes the wellspring of life itself.”
I think sometimes we spend a lot of time in getting ourselves into all sorts of mental and emotional gymnastics as we come up to the big decisions in life. And then, for some of us, that’s the only time we pray, and that’s the only time we seek God. That is a huge mistake. It’s disobedience in the first part, and it is a huge mistake in the second part. Commit all that you do to God every day, and he will establish your thoughts. It’s those small decisions that will help you make those big decisions.
Listen to these words from Jerry Sittser in his book, the Will of God a Way of life. “We do not, therefore, need to fret when we have to make big decisions about the future, worrying about the terrifying possibility that we might miss God’s will for our lives. We simply need to do what we already know, in the present.
God has been clear where clarity is most needed. The choices we make every day to love a spouse after an argument, to treat an unkind worker with respect, to serve food at a soup kitchen, to pray for God’s help when we do not feel much need of it, they determine whether or not we are doing the will of God. If we have a problem, it is not lack of knowledge. Rather, it is our unwillingness to respond to the knowledge we have.”
You catch what he says? I’ll finish the quote in a minute. He’s saying we have this idea that we cannot come in and out of the will of God. “Well, I’m at a big crossroads. Now, I need to know God’s will.” Come on. Yeah, commit all that you do to God. He will establish your ways. Love him with all your heart and acknowledge him in all your ways, and he’ll direct your path.
You better be doing the will of God now, if you want to know the will of God tomorrow or this afternoon. That’s what we’re talking about here. He says this, “Who we choose to become and how we choose to live every day creates a trajectory for everything else. Perhaps that is why the Bible says so little about God’s will for tomorrow, and so much about what we should do to fulfill it today.” You want to know what God wants you to do tomorrow? It begins with what he wants you to do today.
And as you obey him and live according to his word, your heart becomes fine-tuned to those things that he loves. And therefore, when you get to those intersections, based on a pattern of good decisions with a heart that walks in integrity, you will make another good decision. You don’t go in and out of the will of God. You’ve got to be doing it from the small to the great, every day of the week.
Think about it, folks. What is life? What is a successful life? A successful life is the accumulation of successful years. And successful years are the accumulation of successful months. And successful months are the accumulation of successful days. And successful days are the accumulation of what you do every minute and every hour of that day.
If you acknowledge him in all your ways, every hour of the day, that day that becomes a month and that month that becomes a year and that year that becomes a life will be years and days well spent under the direction of God. And you and I will look back on our life with a sense that we did his will in the big picture because we did it in the small details.
I’ve never been to the Sistine Chapel. Maybe someday. I hear it’s mammoth, and I hear it’s marvelous. The story that lies behind it is that Michelangelo spent four years on his back on some scaffolding, painting that beautiful work of art. He did it over four years, an inch at a time. He would concentrate on just a part of the painting that was only a couple of inches in diameter. A full day would be spent on it, and then the next day he would inch across and do another part of the picture, a couple of inches in diameter.
And then those inches became feet, and those feet became yards, until after four years of meticulous painstaking work, he sat back and he looked at the finished product. In fact, throughout the minutiae of all of that, he never lost sight of the big picture. He knew that every inch counted to the overall finishing of that work of art.
Seems to me, as we close this morning, that’s a great parable, isn’t it, on life? Great parable on life. As you and I paint on the canvas of every day, we are indeed adding to our future. We are developing the big picture an inch at a time, an hour at a time, a day at a time. And that’s why character and commitment today are so vital.
Folks, choice is powerful. It’s persuasive. You are today, to a large extent, what you have up, until this moment, decided to be. Now some of you have made a mess of things, but that can change. Amen. If you’ll seek God this morning and put your life under his leadership, that can change in your home and in your marriage.
Before you make any other decision, you need to make a decision today, if you’re not saved, that you’re going to give your life over to Jesus Christ. You’re going to give him your sin in an act of repentance and humility, and you will find that he’ll give you his righteousness. It is marvelous. It is amazing. You’ll give him your sin. He’ll give you his righteousness.
You give him your life. He’ll give you his life because the spirit of God will come into your life as a counselor, and then dwell you and communicate to you the heart and the mind of the living God. And you’ll be able to spend your life in the company of God, day by day, through prayer and Bible study. It’s just fantastic. He has given us life, and he wants us to live it a certain way, and we’ve got to live it in conjunction with him.
So I trust that you have made that decision because if you haven’t, then we have said before, you have a fool for a leader. Because there’s a way that seems right unto a man, in the end, they’re offered the way of death. God can make something of your life even though you’ve made a mess of it, so far.
As a believer, I trust that you’re dedicating each day to God’s glory. Perhaps you’ve even acted foolishly. Perhaps you’ve even got away from God this morning, and you need to make a fresh commitment to develop a godly character so that out of the issues of your heart, under the direction of God, your life will move in proper order and in the right direction. Because you make your choice, and then your choice turns around and makes you.
Considering the impact of that and the influence of that, I want God to help me make my choices. And therefore, I want to trust him with all my heart. I don’t want to lean on my own understanding. I want to acknowledge him in all my ways, and I want to live day by day in the confidence that he is directing my path.