Friday, April 17, 2009

The most important decisions

From the time I learned of Kevin DeYoung's Just Do Something, I wanted to read it. When I read an interview with him about the thesis of the book, my anticipation only increased. I have now read all but the final chapter. This is one of the books I will buy to give away. There are other good books on discerning the will of God, but this does the job clearly, concisely, Biblically, and with a sense of humor.

In Chapter 4, "Our Magic 8-Ball God," DeYoung discusses five pretty common errors Christians fall into as we worry about whether a decision is "within God's will." One of them is a tendency to obsess over the wrong things:
First, the conventional approach to discovering God's will focuses almost all of our attention on nonmoral decisions. Scripture does not tell us whether we should live in Minnesota or Maine. It does not tell us whether we should go to Michigan State University or Wheaton College. It does not tell us whether we should buy a house or rent an apartment. It does not tell us whether we should marry a wonderful Christian named Tim or some other wonderful Christian guy. Scripture does not tell us what to do this summer or what job to take or where to go to grad school.

Once, while preaching on this topic, I said in a bold declarative statement, "God doesn't care where you go to school or where you live or what job you take." A thoughtful young woman talked to me afterward and was discouraged to hear that God didn't care about the most important decisions in her life. I explained to her that I probably wasn't very clear. God certainly cares about these decisions insofar as He cares for us and every detail of our lives. But in another sense, and this was the point I was trying to make, these are not the most important issues in God's book. The most important issues for God are moral purity, theological fidelity, compassion, joy, our witness, faithfulness, hospitality, love, worship, and faith. These are His big concerns. The problem is that we tend to focus most of our attention on everything else. We obsess over the things God has not mentioned and may never mention, while, by contrast, we spend little time on all the things God has already revealed to us in the Bible.

In other words, we spend most of our time trying to figure out nonethical decisions. When I say nonethical or nonmoral matters, I'm talking about decisions between two or more options, none of which is forbidden in Scripture. Choosing between a career in biology and a career in politics is a nonethical decision, provided—and this is a big proviso—that your motives are right and what you'll be doing is right. So if your career in medicine means you work as a doctor who performs abortions, that would be wrong, as would a career in politics in which you slander and cheat your way to the top. But if you are motivated by right and doing right, then your career choice is not a moral decision. The Bible simply does not address every decision we must make.

Of course, this doesn't mean we shouldn't be thoughtful in choosing a career, nor that we should ignore how God has wired us or the command to do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). My point is that we should spend more time trying to figure out how to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (as instructed in Micah 6:8) as a doctor or lawyer and less time worrying about whether God wants us to be a doctor or lawyer. [pp. 44-45]

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