Decidiing with peace
Donald L. Norbie, Greeley, Colorado, USA [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
Often in life one has to make decisions on matters where there may not be any clear direction in the word of God. It may be a decision concerning a move for the family. It may be during a courtship. Is this the man or woman that I should marry? If there is a clear statement in scripture concerning the decision then there should be no question. But what about other important decisions? Is there any way one can be kept from making wrong choices?
‘And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one body, and be thankful’, Col. 3. 15. The next verse goes onto say, ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly’. There may be some guidance in God’s word that you have overlooked. Consult with older, experienced Christians for advice.
If it is true that the believer’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 6. 19, then one has an additional resource for guidance. The Holy Spirit is very sensitive to our thoughts and actions. If things are not right in the believer’s life then the Holy Spirit is grieved, Eph. 4. 30. On the dashboard of a car there are several warning lights. If a red light goes on, you will be wise to stop and see what is malfunctioning. Otherwise, serious damage may result. The grieved Spirit is like that red light; stop and consider what you are doing. When a person receives Christ into his heart and life, he is justified and has peace with God, Rom. 5. 1. His rebellion and war against God are over. The Holy Spirit enters his life and there is a profound sense of peace. Paul’s prayer is that this peace may continue in the believer’s life. ‘Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’, Rom. 15. 13. Peace with God is an objective reality. The peace of God in the heart is a subjective experience. If you are filled with worry and anxiety you should pray to enjoy the peace of God in your heart, Phil. 4. 6-7.
The verse in Colossians 3. 15, speaks of the peace of God, or of Christ in some texts. This peace should rule in the heart of a child of God. The word ‘rule’ in the Greek text is brabeuo from the noun brabeus, ‘an umpire’. It means then ‘to act as an umpire’, ‘to arbitrate’, or ‘to decide’. There are choices to be made that are important. As you pray, wanting God’s will, do you have peace about a certain course of action? Abraham’s servant was commissioned to find a wife for Isaac. When he arrived at the town that was his destination, he prayed to God for guidance in the choice of a wife for Isaac. The woman who would offer him water from the well and also offer to water his camels would be God’s choice. Rebekah came in answer to his prayer and drew water for him and for his camels. The servant had great peace and joy, and worshipped God. There was no doubt; this was God’s will.
At times you may feel you must make a choice even though you do not have peace of heart. But it is better to do nothing, to stay where you are, and to wait until God, the Holy Spirit, gives you peace. ‘The meaning is in deciding on any course of action, let that be chosen which does not ruffle the peace within you’, Expositor’s Greek Testament, vol.3, p. 541. The Spirit is all-wise and all-knowing; He knows the end results of the action you will take. He desires the best for God’s children. Wait until He gives peace about a course of action and you will know God’s blessing.
But what if you act in self-will and haste, without the peace of God in your heart. Later you realize your mistake but you cannot go back and relive life. You must live with the consequences of your choice: but there is forgiveness with the Lord. Although such failures may not have been transgressions it was a failure to choose God’s best. Claiming God’s forgiveness, a believer can then begin to forgive himself and to live for God again. John Mark turned back from the first missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas, Acts 13. 13. It was a wrong choice but he recovered, went on to be a useful servant of the Lord, 2 Tim. 4. 11, and wrote the Gospel of Mark. Our God is a forgiving, healing God. Surely Romans 8 verse 28 is still true, ‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God’. Do you love God? Then trust Him to work in the circumstances of life on your behalf. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold into Egypt. As a conscientious slave he was tempted by his master’s wife but refused to be seduced. In revenge she accused him of attempted rape and he was thrown into prison. Who would have thought any good could come of that? Yet, in time, he was brought before Pharaoh to unveil his dream, which he did to the king’s amazement. Joseph was then given a high, governing position, next to the king.
During the famine, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy grain. After testing their repentance Joseph reveals himself to them. The whole family is then brought to Egypt and spared the famine. When their father dies his brothers fear that Joseph will take revenge on them. Joseph answers them with compassion and forgiveness, ‘But as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day to save many people alive’, Gen. 50. 20. Cling to the promise of God. Maybe you have acted in self-will and grieved the Spirit of God, yet God is able to work in your circumstances and bring blessing to you and to others. But aim at allowing the peace of God to arbitrate in all the decisions of life. This will spare you many a heartache.
AUTHOR PROFILE: Donald Norbie is in fellowship with the assembly in Greeley, Colorado, and is a commended full-time worker. A regular contributor to Precious Seed and other assembly magazines his ministry is widely appeciated throughout N. America and the UK.