Five helps with Guidance
Whether it is ‘What career should I aim for?’ or ‘Where shall I apply for uni-?’ or ‘Whom, if anybody, should I marry?’ or something as seemingly insignificant as ‘What should I wear today?’, every one of us has countless choices to make.
Every decision has consequences which can shape your life as a Christian. After all, it was just a matter of ‘What shall we have for dinner tonight?’ which was to direct the whole future of Daniel and his three friends in Babylon (Daniel 1)!
We, like them, should develop a habit of making our choices in the light of Christ being Lord of every area of our life. Five things helps us here:
1. God will never guide you contrary to Scripture
The Bible is to be our lifelong guidebook (Psalm 119:105; 19:7-11). It has all we need to live godly lives (2 Timothy 3:16). Some issues are clear, such as the Ten Commandments or, for example, 2 Corinthians 6:14: ‘Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers’.
This verse makes guidance over dating a non-Christian obvious. You will meet professing believers who claim special words from God (particularly over this issue!), but God never leads his children to disobey what he has revealed in his Word.
We need to know God’s Word well and apply it correctly (2 Timothy 2:15). It can sometimes be helpful when seeking God’s wisdom on a particular matter to read the book of Proverbs to see if there are guidelines to follow. Proverbs stresses the importance of our next help too.
2. Godly advice is important
‘Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety’ (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22).
This doesn’t mean asking a few friends to rubberstamp what you’ve already decided to do; that was King Rehoboam’s mistake when he ignored the counsel of older men and followed the advice of his ungodly friends (1 Kings 12:8).
Choose your counsellors carefully. Proverbs tells us to listen to our parents (1:8-9). Even if your parents are not believers, they have the benefit of age and experience, and God has chosen to place you under their care. Unless they tell you to disobey God, you should seek to honour and obey them.
Also talk to older Christians whose lives are good examples. Don’t only choose people who’ve had a similar problem to the one you’re facing. Those who have avoided certain mistakes may have more wisdom to share than those who just have hindsight and sympathy.
Sometimes the advice we get isn’t what we want to hear, but the Scriptures tell us that true friends may have to hurt us to prove they really care (Proverbs 27:5-6).
3. Prayer is important
The Lord’s Prayer teaches us to ask daily for God’s leading. James 1:5 tells us to ask for God’s wisdom when we don’t know what to do. Daniel asked his friends to join him in prayer about a certain problem (Daniel 2:17-18). Even the Lord Jesus spent the whole night in prayer before choosing his twelve disciples.
4. Circumstances are important
Circumstances alone are not a trustworthy guide. After all, Jonah found a boat waiting for him and he had the money needed for the fare, though he was going in the opposite direction to where God was sending him.
Yet Psalm 37:23 does tell us: ‘the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord’. As we seek to walk in his ways, God can use circumstances to guide us. Certain doors may open or shut to us through our own doing, such as exam results.
Other things are outside our control, like sickness or bereavement. Whatever situation we find ourselves in, we can be sure that every circumstance is under God’s control and part of his perfect plan for our life (Romans 8:28).
We still need to make plans though, even as we seek his will. We have Paul’s example in this: when he said that he often planned to visit the believers at Rome but had not been able to (Romans 1:9-15); and when he tried to go to Asia and Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit did not permit it (Acts 16:6-7).
5. Feelings can be important
Our emotions should not govern our feelings. Emotions and moods can be deceptive and changeable (Jeremiah 17:9). By ‘feelings’, I mean the sense of peace or otherwise that the Holy Spirit gives to us, based on a conscience controlled by the Word of God.
That sense of peace can be firmly founded on what we know to be the facts, what we believe to be our duty, and whether or not we are seeking, by God’s grace, to behave in a way consistent to both.
And remember, God promises: ‘I will guide you with my eye’ (Psalm 32:8). We can expect him as our loving heavenly Father to lead us.
This article is edited from the magazine of Young Life