The Role of Reason and Faith in Our Decision Making
The last post looked at the role of prayer in determining God’s will for our lives. Now, we will look at the roles of reason and faith in our decision making.
The Role of Reason
By “reason,” I mean rational thinking and God-given common sense. Proverbs 3:5 does not say, “do not use your understanding” but rather, “don’t rest on human understanding, don’t make it your ultimate rule; don’t put all your weight upon it!” Instead, put all your trust in God who rules and over-rules all human decisions. There are always gaps in our knowledge. Even the most logical decisions necessarily have some unknown factors. So what is the proper role of reason?
- Reason uses Scripture sensibly. Some people get wrong guidance from Scripture because they wrongly interpret and apply it. The proper use of reason produces interpretations that systematically harmonize with the entire Bible. Then it applies those interpretations correctly to the decisions of life.
- When you have made your decision, don’t be too sure that you have interpreted the results correctly. A result that seems disastrous to our understanding may not actually be so. We have all seen, with hindsight, that seemingly disastrous events have, in the providence of God, been for the good of others and ourselves.
- Reason handles liberty properly. Reason is especially important where we have the most freedom in making decisions, where Scripture gives us many options. For instance, a Christian is free to buy any house on the market within his means. Because there are literally millions of legitimate options, reason will have a leading role in making the decision.
The Role of Faith
“Faith” means trust, belief, confidence—and it has a very significant role to play in godly decision making. We have faith in Scripture as the infallible Word of God. We have faith that God is always in control. So now that our conscience is clear and the decision is made, what is the role of faith?
Faith does not mean that you are entitled to believe that the outcome of any decision made in the light of Scripture will be trouble-free. When Christians act in accordance with the Bible, it often brings serious troubles upon them. It did so for Daniel, and it did for Jesus, and it did for the Apostles. Seeking the interests of the kingdom of God does not relieve us of troubles.
Sometimes certainty is possible because Scripture leaves no options about a decision (Should I steal that car?). But most decisions are more complex and we cannot be sure.
The New Testament has a very helpful definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We can’t always see how God is guiding behind the scenes! But faith is utterly convinced that God will rule in all our decisions.
In other words, the role of faith is to really believe that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).
You may not feel that everything happening to you is being worked for your good. But faith rises above feelings! Faith believes that God is always true to his Word and his promises.
God’s will revealed in the gospel is that you should do as his Word says: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, acknowledge and repent of your sin, and willingly put your life into the hands of the one who made you and knows what is best for you (Acts 2).
May God enable us all to be prayerful, reasonable, and faithful in the ways described, as we become more mature in our service to and love of the King of kings, our Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ and as we seek to do what he would have us do according to his Word.