This past Sunday we defined the central hub, or core, of our decision-making process. For believers the central hub of our decision-making was emulated by our great God and King, Jesus, when he prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Jesus prayed this prayer as he contemplated taking upon himself the wrath of God for the sins of the world. Jesus’ decision was the most intense, stressful, troubling decision this world has ever seen, and will ever see. No matter how intense or painful our decisions have been or will be, they will never be like the one Jesus faced in the garden of Gethsemane. Nevertheless, there were five truths we took away from his prayer that can help us define the core of our decision-making. Here they are:
1) Jesus’ prayer is motivated by a love for the Father. When it comes to our decisions, “What’s the motivation for our decision?” Who do we ultimately want to please in making this decision? For Jesus he wanted to please, honor, and glorify his Father.
2) Jesus’ prayer reflects the desire to do the will of God. When it comes to our decisions, “What’s the end goal; what do we want to accomplish in making this decision?” For Jesus, in order to please, honor, and glorify the Father he desired to do the will of the Father. The Father’s will became his guide, his directional map, for his decision to take upon himself the wrath of God.
3) Jesus’ prayer is voiced from a position of glad submission to the Father. When it comes to our decisions, “Who are we gladly, humbly, and joyfully submitting to?” To phrase this question another way, “How’s our attitude in making a decision?” For Jesus, we know that he approached the cross with joy and glad submission to the Father. The author of Hebrews writes, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame….” Paul also writes, that Jesus “being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
4) Jesus’ prayer, honestly uttered and faithfully executed required great sacrifice. When it comes to our decisions, “Have we sacrificed this decision on the altar of God’s glory?” Or you may ask this question, “How high of a price are we willing to pay to make the best, the wisest, the godliest decision?”
5) Jesus’ prayer, honestly uttered and faithfully executed advanced the mission of God. When it comes to our decisions, “What mission does our decisions advance?” For Jesus, his decision to embrace the cross—absorbing the wrath of God for our sin—advanced the mission of God in the world.
When it comes to making the best, wisest, godliest decisions there are many roadblocks we face. In short, I want to address one roadblock. Here it is: we have a problem with submitting ourselves to making the best decisions with great humility, gladness, and joy. Every decision, no matter how weighty or how difficult, should be enacted with humble, glad, and joyful submission. However, this can only happen when we are intimately connected with the Father and have a great love for him and his will.
To be honest, I wish this would be something my children would learn. If your children are like mine, when we ask them to do something, the decision to do it is wrought with stomping, huffing, puffing, whining, and complaining. They may make the decision to do what we desire, but not in humble, glad, joyful submission. They make it because we have modified their behavior in some way.
Truthfully, the reason why many believers fail to obey and make the better, wiser, godlier decisions in life is because their “Christianity” has been manufactured through behavioral modification rather than developed through an intimate love relationship with the Father.
In other words, modified “Christian” behavior follows through on the easy external decisions like praying, giving, attending church, reading the bible, or being moral and living a good decent life. These decisions are fairly easy for they are external decisions that do not require a lot of sacrifice, but that can be modified and manufactured. However, the hard decisions are not easily modified. Decisions like, loving others (even those not like us), forgiving others (those who have wronged us), telling others about Jesus, being kind and generous, not blowing up, putting effort into a struggling marriage, asking the question does God want me to stay in this marriage, saying no to a very flirtatious relationship that is dangerous, fessing up to an addiction, honestly assessing our taxes, putting the right amount of hours on our time sheet, saying no to a peer-pressure situation, asking God what job he wants us to take, asking God is this the best use of his finances, how do I respond to this email, how do I respond to this disease, etc.
In these more difficult internal, heart-revealing decisions, the only way we will become more consistent in making better, wiser, healthier, and godlier decisions is if we humbly, gladly, and joyfully submit ourselves to the glory and will of God. This does not come by modifying our external behaviors, but by living in a vibrant, grateful, thankful, and intimate relationship with Jesus. This kind of relationship with Jesus leads to a humble, glad, joyful spirit and attitude.
Does this define your attitude, your spirit, when it comes to you making the best, wisest, healthiest, and godliest decision? If not, you may want to check your relationship with Jesus.