In our last post we began looking at some examples of decision making from the life of Paul. We continue that examination here.
Sometimes we need to make decisions based on what is most strategic for accomplishing our God appointed mission.
Acts 14:1 reads:
At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed.
This text indicates that it was Paul’s “usual” practice to bring the Gospel message to the local synagogue. Why did Paul do this? It’s quite likely that part of Paul’s motivation was theological. Because of God’s historic covenants with the Jewish people, Paul probably thought it appropriate to first give the Jews in every city an opportunity to hear the good news about the Messiah. But beyond this, the Jewish synagogues typically hosted a number of “God-fearing” Gentiles who were obviously interested in the God who had revealed himself to Israel. These Gentiles were likely to be the most open to hearing about Jesus Christ. In fact, our text states that the converts in Iconium included a “great number of Jews and Greeks.”
It is not unspiritual to be strategic! God expects us to bring all of our leadership ability to the table.
Sometimes we need to make decisions based on what will strengthen others.
Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” Acts 15:36
On many occasions in Paul’s letters we see evidence of his deep commitment to the people to whom he ministered the gospel. Paul’s decisions were not motivated primarily by a consideration of his own well-being or “life-goals” but rather by the needs of those to whom he was called. Our own pursuit of “God’s will” can quickly turn into a very self-centered process. To avoid this we need to allow love for others to play a central role in our decision making.
Sometimes we need to make decisions based on “holy distress.”
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. Acts 17:16-17
Did Paul feel called to Athens? Were Greek philosophers the people group that he felt most prepared to engage? We don’t know. What we do know is that Paul found himself in Athens and that he was distressed by what he saw. So he did something. There are times in our lives when a particular state of affairs will cause us to say to ourselves, “This should not be!” Occasionally this will boil over to the point that we decide we need to do something about it. The more our character reflects God’s character, the more likely we are to be grieved by the things that grieve him. And this is a perfectly legitimate reason to take action.
God is an expert at getting us where he wants us to be, whether or not he reveals the destination to us in advance. If you truly desire to honor God with your life, then relax, make a decision, and move forward.