“Do you have a second? I’ve talked to several other friends, and a bunch of family members. Heck, I even talked to a stranger about it. No one was any help so far.
So, I wanted to get YOUR opinion.”
These were the opening words from a friend of mine recently. He was visibly bothered by something, and I wanted to help him. Although…I admit that I chuckled more than just a little at also realizing I was, apparently, his absolute LAST RESORT.
(Before I continue, I should probably note here that my friend has just opened his heart to Jesus, and is still very young in the Faith.)
“What do YOU think about your choices?” I asked. And without going into the whole conversation, over the next 10 minutes I watched and listened as the voices of Reason, Conscience, Fear and Pride influenced my friend’s thoughts and words.
He concluded with, “See? This is why I am SO confused!”
“How long has this been going on?” I asked. “For weeks,” came the reply.
“It’s happened to all of us,” I assured him.
It was then that I explained to him, just as I’d experienced and explained to myself many times, our human tendency to turn to others when faced with a tough decision or a choice to make. Inevitably, we get as many opinions as there are people whom we’ve asked. Each one gives different advice based on different life experiences, biases, prejudices…you name it. Some folks come from a place of truly wanting to help, while others will use the moment to manipulate you for their own selfish gain.
At the end, with the sound of their voices still ringing in our ears, we usually find ourselves no closer to the desired solution, and feel as though we are left to contemplate our choice on our own. We approach it from a HUMAN mindset – a mindset tainted by skewed reasoning, a situational conscience, fear, and pride.
I explained all this to him, and then I asked:
It’s challenging, in our daily walk, to discern the voice of The Lord from the other voices (Reason, Conscience, Fear, Pride) that seek to influence us. The choices we make should not focus on the temporal, but rather on the ETERNAL.
I’ve found there are 6 steps to help us, as Christians, to discern God’s voice. I personally know of no exceptions to these steps. Of course, there may be more that you could add, but I don’t know of any that could be safely removed.
1. Study to know God’s Word.
“Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, AMP)
2. Spend time in prayer. (Talk WITH, as well as TO, The Lord)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6 – 7, NIV)
3. Consult “Seasoned” Saints. (Those more mature in their Faith)
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV)
4. Maintain a Godly conscience and listen to it.
“Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.” (I Timothy 1:18-19, NIV)
5. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake.
They’re GOING to happen! When they do, get back into The Word, and always remember to: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8, NIV)
I don’t know exactly what my friend will do with his decision, yet. All I can do now is pray he opens his heart to listen to Him…just as I have to remind myself to do, every day.