Making Wise Decisions

by Chet R. Echelbarger

You are confronted with the need to make decisions each day of your life. Some of these will only be matters of personal preference that will not impact your life in any significant way—matters such as “What clothes will I wear today?” or “What will I eat for lunch?” or “Which movie would be appropriate to watch?”

However, other decisions have long-term ramifications that will affect your happiness and overall well-being. For example, should you attend college or further your education through other options? What career path should you pursue? What kind of person do you want to marry? Where will you live? Because these and other decisions we face can affect us for the rest of our lives, they require proper consideration, in addition to seeking wise counsel.

Life requires that we make wise decisions, to ensure that our lives are happier and that we can have peace of mind. But making the right decisions is not a matter of luck or chance. It’s not a coin toss. Remember, you may have to live with the effects of a wrong decision for a long time—and, in some cases, a lifetime! Making sound choices is a matter of knowing and applying certain keys.

There is an Instruction Manual that contains those keys, inspired by One who is the Source of right knowledge and wisdom. No doubt, that manual is already in your possession; it is called the Holy Bible. Few realize that God’s Word contains the all-important guidelines needed to make truly wise decisions!

So let’s look into this manual to learn these guidelines. Before beginning, get your Bible, a pen or a pencil, and some paper. Writing out the verses that answer the questions will help you remember the priceless principles you will be learning.

(1) Who was the wisest of all men? 1 Kings 4:30-34. How did he obtain that wisdom? 1 Kings 4:29. Also read 1 Kings 3:5-13.

(2) Did Solomon write the book of Proverbs? Proverbs 1:1. What is one of the key principles it gives for making wise decisions? Proverbs 3:5-6.

(3) Will God grant His wisdom, knowledge and understanding to those who seek it? Proverbs 2:1-6

God will direct your ways and give you wisdom, if you are striving to please Him. The vehicle He uses to dispense wisdom is the Bible. God inspired its words for our edification, so that we might benefit from His instructions (II Timothy 3:16-17).

(4) Can God’s Word act as a spotlight to point out the path we should take? Psalm 119:105.

Notice the comparison God makes between the vital knowledge, guidance and wisdom contained in His word to a chest full of precious treasure (Proverbs 8:10-11). Further, notice God’s description of its value in Proverbs 3:13-18.

As you can see, the instruction contained in God’s Word is far more valuable than silver, gold or any other precious commodity of this world. These principles will help you to make wise judgments in all areas of life.

There exists a virtual gold mine of wisdom and understanding in the Scriptures, especially in the book of Proverbs. Its priceless wisdom will guide anyone, old and young alike, in making decisions that lead to lifelong success and happiness. Among the benefits to be enjoyed are good health, a successful career, a happy marriage, happy children and lasting friendships.

(5) How did King David refer to God’s Word? Psalm 119:72, 162. Was he able to obtain understanding and wisdom by following God’s instructions? Psalm 119:97-100, 104.

From his youth, David learned through practical experience that God’s Word is a warehouse of wisdom, understanding and knowledge! He diligently studied all of the scriptures that were available to him in his day. David meditated on God’s Law and thought about how to apply it in making wise decisions. By doing so, he was abundantly blessed. He became wiser than his enemies and had more understanding than even his teachers.

(6) Has God recorded the lives of those in the Old and New Testaments so we can learn from these accounts—both their successes and failures? Romans 15:4; I Corinthians 10:6, 11.

In reading about the lives of the great figures of the Bible—men such as Abraham, Moses and David, and women such as Ruth, Hannah and Sarah—you can learn from their experiences. Applying these valuable lessons and principles will help you make wise decisions.

Let’s look at some additional keys for wise decision making. We must understand how important it is to avoid making rash or hasty decisions. Notice the principles in Proverbs 21:5, 4:26 and 14:15.

As we can see, a cardinal rule to good decision making is to avoid jumping to conclusions. A hasty decision can end up causing you unnecessary grief and regret, because you did not fully understand the facts before making it. You need to take sufficient time to carefully analyze the situation and consider all the facts. Think it through, and consider what the end results of the various alternatives would be—or could be. In addition, don’t allow others to pressure or rush you to make hasty decisions. They may not have your best interests in mind.

(7) Is it wise to seek advice and counsel from those who have knowledge and experience before making important decisions? Proverbs 11:14; 12:15; 15:22; 19:20.

Consider this old saying: “Two heads are better than one.” It is prudent to seek advice and assistance from others, perhaps someone older with more experience, such as your parents, teachers or experts in a particular field. Often, they can advise or steer you in the right direction to making a wise decision or solving a problem. Their valuable advice could bring up ideas or considerations of which you may not have thought.

Sometimes, what you might think to be a good course of action is not necessarily the best. That is why it is important to seek the advice of your parents, teachers and elders. They may have gone through similar experiences, and therefore know the consequences of making a foolish decision. They want to provide guidance to help you avoid mistakes that could prove costly and cause much grief. But remember, any counsel you act upon must be within the framework of God’s Law.

(8) What benefits are there in getting to know and associate with those who are wise? Proverbs 13:20; 27:17.

Associate with friends who are known for their wisdom and good judgment. Such friendships will have a tendency to sharpen your wits, and can aid you in making wise decisions. Spending time with people who have immoral values may seem like harmless fun—but it will only lead to compromising the values you have learned in God’s Church (I Cor. 15:33).

Read autobiographies and biographies of successful men and women known for their wisdom, balance, understanding and common sense. From their experiences, you can glean important character traits and certain ways of doing things that you can apply in your own life.

(9) Should a person take the time to carefully “count the cost” of a decision to be certain he is able to see it through to completion? Luke 14:28-30.

The answer to this question may seem obvious, but many neglect this important step to making wise decisions. This may result from being caught up in the moment and not thinking through the long-term effects of certain judgments, such as whether to buy a new car with all the desired options versus a used car in excellent condition with lower payments; what career to pursue, and where to go for the necessary training; whether to move out on your own, and whether you will be able to afford rent, utilities and associated living expenses, etc.

When pondering such decisions, you must take time to count the cost. You have to consider if your plans might be premature, financially inadvisable or unrealistic.

(10) How do you begin to apply all these principles in wise decision making? Where is the starting point of understanding? Proverbs 9:10; 10:13.

(11) Has God promised to give us the needed wisdom to make wise decisions if we ask Him for it? James 1:5-6.

We need to go directly to the source of right knowledge and wisdom. God, the supreme source of wisdom and sound judgment, will guide you as you strive to apply these biblical principles, if you consult Him. But in order to reap the benefits of His guidance, you must be willing to obey Him.

Also, be aware that even in your diligence to apply these key principles, you will occasionally make a bad decision. It may be due to unknown factors or circumstances beyond your control; but in any case, it should be the exception, rather than the norm. When this happens, do not be discouraged, but learn whatever you can from the experience.

Let’s briefly summarize the principles we have learned in this Bible study:

1. Avoid making hasty decisions.

2. Gather all the information and facts you can.

3. Seek counsel and advice from qualified individuals with proven experience.

4. Study God’s Word to benefit from His wisdom.

5. Most importantly, ask God for guidance in applying wisdom in your life.

If you diligently apply these important principles, you will experience the happy, abundant and successful life that God wishes every one of us to enjoy!