Each morning I receive a social media post I both love and hate. It comes from a training partner whose unwavering strength and conditioning routine serves as either accountability or conviction, depending on how faithful I have been to my own fitness goals. Along with a diagram of the 8-mile run, the 50-mile bike ride, or the 2-mile swim he’s completed that day is a caption that reads: “Everyday your body is changing. The direction it changes is TOTALLY UP TO YOU!!!” (his emphasis). The message comes every morning. At the same time. Without fail.
The truth is our lives—not only our physical life but also our mental, emotional, and spiritual lives—are the combination and summation of a series of everyday choices. Choices we make. There are, of course, aspects of our lives that occur outside our control, but, in many respects, God has given us agency and freedom to make decisions each day that shape and direct the trajectory of our lives. The seminal question is whether we will make everyday choices that honor God and move our lives in a positive direction.
It is reminiscent of the choice presented to the Israelites as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess” (Deut. 30:15-16). Like Israel, we are offered and sometimes confronted with daily alternatives that move us either closer to God or further from His will. The choices are ours to make.
As we make these choices, we can be sure that honoring God and experiencing the full enjoyment of life depends on choosing to obey God’s Word. As King Solomon charged his son: “Do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man” (Prov. 3:1-3).
The Bible provides many principles that help us make sound choices each day. Here are but a few:
Don’t always look for the easiest option.
The best choice is not always the easiest choice. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:13-14). Do not be afraid to take the unworn path, even when it is difficult. Sometimes the correct road is a lonely one.
When in doubt, ask God.
One of my favorite verses is found in James 1:5. The Apostle writes, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” His words are a reminder that God is not trying to hide His will from us; instead, He desires that we not only discern the correct choices in our lives but also have the courage to make them. The promise of the text is that if we cannot find clarity in our decision making, which is true for all of us at least some of the time, we can ask our all-knowing, all-powerful God who will provide insight to guide us. And He will do this freely, without judging or condemning us.
Ask godly people you know and trust for help.
Here too, scripture provides assurance: “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14). Sometimes the Lord will use people in our lives as guideposts and guardrails for our decision making, but we cannot be afraid to ask for help.
Consult the Word of God when making difficult choices.
Ultimately, however, our greatest help in decision making is the Word of God. There is no substitute for scripture in helping us with the decisions that shape our lives. Wisdom is found in the Word. The counsel of God is mediated by the Holy Spirit through the Word. The Word is trustworthy and reliable. The psalmist testified that “God’s word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Ps. 119:105).
The challenge for all of is to make the regular, moment-by-moment, everyday decisions that most honor God and move our lives toward greatest fulfillment. It will not always be easy, but the choice is always yours!
Essentino A. Lewis, Jr. is the pastor of Clifton Park Baptist Church (Silver Spring, MD), a congregation representing over 30 nations and 19 native languages. In addition to his leadership in the church, he is committed to community and civic service. He was a practicing attorney for over a decade before his call to full-time ministry. He holds a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter @pastoressentino