Several years ago W.W.J.D. took over pop culture. If you didn’t have a bracelet, shirt or hat with it on it, you were not with it. Everyone was asking what would Jesus do to help guide them. That was great, but how often do we ask Him what we should do? I’m pretty good at asking him for direction on big decisions, but not so good at asking Him about smaller ones. Also, I tend to make my own decisions when the answer looks obvious to me, but truthfully, we should be seeking His advice and direction in all aspects of our life, even the ones that seem obvious.
In Joshua 9, the word about Israel defeating Jericho was spreading. Some kings who lived nearby knew that Israel was going to take over the whole land, so they devised a plan to trick them. They sent a group of people with dry, moldy bread, wine skins that had burst and worn out clothes to seek a peace agreement. Verse 14 says, “So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord” (NLT). The answer seemed obvious so they didn’t seek God for direction. They agreed to the treaty only to find out a few days later that they lived in the Promised Land. They entered a peace treaty with someone they were told to destroy all because they relied on their own understanding instead of God’s.
Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make” (TPT). When we rely on our own understanding, we’re not seeing the whole picture. It may seem obvious to us, but we need to rely on God to guide us, especially in seemingly small decisions. When you make the right decisions in small things, you prevent big problems down the road. God is available to guide us in every area of our life and in every decision we make. It’s up to us to take the time to seek His advice on what we should do.
Thanks to Soroush Karimi @soroushkarimi for making this photo available freely on Unsplash
I’m a pretty spontaneous person. A friend could show up and ask if I wanted to go on a road trip. I’d grab a few things, toss them in a backpack and be ready to go in about ten minutes. It might be a few hours later before I realized I forgot something or realized I had a prior commitment that I had forgotten about. Meanwhile, I have friends who given the same circumstance would not be able to make a decision to go on the road trip for a couple of days. They’d need to know exactly where the trip was going, where they would be staying, when they were coming back, etc. It might take them a couple of days to decide if they were going. If they did decide to go, they would have looked at everything from all the angles before committing.
In 1 Kings 22, King Arab asked King Jehoshaphat to go to war with Romath Gilead. Jehoshaphat jumped at the opportunity, but then thought better of it and wanted to get God’s blessing first. They got about 400 prophets together and asked them. They assured the kings of God’s blessing and victory. Jehoshaphat wasn’t convinced. He asked if there were any more prophets. They told him there was one, but he always gives bad news. Jehoshaphat wanted to hear what this prophet Michaiah would say. Michaiah told them they would be defeated and die. Ahah threw him in prison and the kings decided to go to war anyway. They were defeated and Arab was killed.
Galatians 5:16 says, “But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]” (AMP). When it comes to making big decisions, we need to be less spontaneous and more deliberate in seeking God’s guidance. Not only that, we need to follow His leading even when it conflicts with our own desires. The Holy Spirit is constantly prompting us and speaking to us. He warns us of temptations and sin. If we hear or feel His promptings and ignore them, we are choosing to be led by our flesh instead of God. If we want to live a Spirit led life, we must habitually seek Him, listen to His guidance and follow it. When we do, we open the doors to His blessings and live the life we were created to live.
One of the books I’ve just read is about discipleship and how churches can create them. The first section of the book helps to define the four areas where people get stuck in the spiritual continuum. Many people never move past exploring Christ. They stand at the edge of receiving Him, but aren’t willing to give their heart to Him. Others who have accepted Jesus struggle to reconcile their private faith with their public life. They have a hard time growing in Christ. Once people become a new creation and develop spiritual disciplines, their life transforms and they move close to Christ. However, the next move is the hardest. It’s one thing to live for Christ, but it’s a totally different thing to completely surrender to Him living a Christ centered life. It’s where we quit asking God for direction and give Him control.
Think of the story of the rich, young ruler who came to visit Jesus in Matthew 19. He asks Jesus what he needs to do to have eternal life. Jesus tells him to keep the commandments. The guy then wants to know which ones. Jesus rattled off several of the 10 commandments. The ruler got excited and let Jesus know he’s been following the rules his whole life and feels like there’s more, so he asks what else. Jesus then tells him to sell everything he has, give the money to the poor and then follow Him. The young man went away sad because he was willing to follow the rules of Christianity, but he wasn’t willing to surrender his life completely to Jesus. He wanted Christianity and eternal life without fully surrendering his life.
Psalm 37:5 says, “Give God the right to direct your life, and as you trust him along the way you’ll find he pulled it off perfectly!” (TPT) We usually look down on the rich young ruler for not giving up his possessions, but you and I hold things back from Jesus all the time. We seek Him for guidance, but are we giving Him the right to direct our life? It’s like my driving navigation app. When it tells me to turn, sometimes I go straight because I think I know better. I’m driving and it’s guiding. When we approach Jesus that way, we may be living a life that is close to Christ, but it’s not fully surrendered to Him. God is calling you and I into a deeper relationship with Him that requires more surrender the closer we get. To fully surrender to Him is to fully trust Him.