By Joe Chesser
Life is filled with difficult decisions, many of which are life changing decisions. We have to decide a career path, whom to marry, and how many children. We have to choose where and in what to call home, the kind of vehicle to purchase, and how to spend our time. We have to plan for investments, our children’s education and retirement. How will we care for our aging parents? What church will we choose? These are indeed difficult decisions. So the question is, what standard will we use to make these decisions?
For Christians that decision should already be made. Our standard is always Jesus! To be a Christian means we have made a commitment to follow Jesus regardless of what the rest of the world may be thinking and doing. We are to have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2.5). We are to stop thinking and acting like the world (1 John 2.15); we are to let God transform our minds so we can make decisions that are within His will (Rom. 12.2). When examining how Jesus made difficult decisions this one principle rises to the top: the will of the Father!
His very first recorded decision is found in Luke 2. At age 12 Jesus went with his parents to the temple in Jerusalem. When it was time to go home Jesus chose to stay behind to discuss spiritual matters with the temple teachers. Why? His answer: “Did you not know I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2.49). His second recorded decision was to be submissive to his parents (Luke 2.51). That, too, is within the Father’s will (Eph. 6.1). Because God was his first priority, loved learning and was submissive to his parents.
The next decision we read about was his baptism by John (Matt. 3.13-17). When John resisted, Jesus explained why he needed to be baptized: “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3.15). The Father and Spirit verified that his decision to be baptized was the Father’s will. The Spirit descended in the form of a dove and came to rest on him, and the Father proclaimed: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
For Jesus, the most important thing in life was to do the Father’s will. “My food is to do the will of him who sent me” / “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 4.34 / 6.38). The night before Jesus died he prayed three times that there might be some other way than the cross. However, he ended each request by adding, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26.39).
Jesus faced many difficult decisions while on earth. But in everyone of them, his standard was always the will of the Father. Those who follow Jesus will choose the same standard he used when making decisions. The degree of difficulty does not factor into these decisions. The standard is always the same: the will of the Father. So, the principles from God’s word should guide our decisions regarding church, marriage, children, career, relationships, investments, finances, retirement, etc.? Remember, Jesus said that only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7.21).