Saturday, April 25, 2015

Freedom


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Somebody asked a psychiatrist, “I can't seem to make up my mind about what I should do.” The doctor replied, “Have you always had trouble making decisions?” The patient answered, “Well, yes and no.” [1]

We feel that way at times. (Most of the time?) It’s already challenging to obey the will of God that’s revealed in His Word. (Though, to be honest, it’s not because we can’t obey but because we won’t obey. 1 John 5:3a tells us, “And his commandments are not burdensome.” The Good News Bible goes like this: “And his commands are not too hard for us”.)

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But, it seems more challenging to look for the will of God that’s not revealed in the Bible. Of course, as John MacArthur Jr. wrote in “Found: God’s Will,” “Why should God show a person something if he or she is not even fulfilling that which God has already clearly stated as His will?” [2] But, assuming that we are obedient in what is already written, how do we know God’s will for our lives in what is not written?

According to Garry Friesen, there are “four principles for decision making according to God’s will.” [3] The first is the principle of obedience: “Where God commands, we must obey.” The second is the principle of freedom: “Where there is no command, God gives us freedom (and responsibility) to choose.” 

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For example, the Bible did not directly address what college course our children must take or what career we are to pursue. So, how does this principle of freedom work?
This principle asserts three things: 1) There are some decisions which have multiple options, any number of which may be acceptable to God; 2) the final decision made must not be in violation of God’s moral will (in purpose, attitude, or execution); and 3) God will not dictate to the believer what he must do—the individual is free to make the decision. [4]
The Bible does not really tell us which college course to choose. It does not even tell us to choose a sectarian school over a secular one. Daniel and his friends attended—and excelled in—the University of Babylon, remember? (Read Daniel 1:3-4, 17-21) So, the believer must ask questions like, “Which university would offer the best training possible in the field I chose?” or “Which one of them would offer a scholarship?” Don’t ask God to choose which university for you. He won’t. So, the believer must prayerfully and carefully weigh his options. It’s also imperative that he would ask his parents. Any university he chooses in the end would be acceptable to God. 

Another example would be discerning what career path to take. The believer must ask, “Should I remain where I am right now?” “Should I go for that promotion?” or “What about that opportunity somewhere else?” The Bible does not say at all we should remain where we are or we should move to another company. So, she has to make a choice after considering the pros and cons. As long as the choice is a moral one (and it’s not illegal, too), God would honor her choice.

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Simply put, God gave us the freedom to choose and we are responsible for the consequences of our choices. “It is up to the individuals involved to make the decision and follow through on the commitment with the Spirit’s strength.” [5]

“Will of God” Step
Think back on the major decisions you made in the past. How did you arrive with that decision? Are you grateful or regretful regarding it? What are the lessons you learned from those decisions (not only the good but also the bad decisions)? 

NOTE: This is Day Two of the devotional guide (Volume 1, Issue 8) of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship, for the message on Pass It On! (Part 3)” last April 19.  

[1] Adapted from Garry Friesen (2004-2005), “Principles for Decision Making,” Garry Friesen, retrieved from http://www.gfriesen.net/. 

[2] John MacArthur Jr., Found: God’s Will (CO: David C. Cook, 2012). iBooks.

[3] Friesen.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.