Imagine all you had to do was write your signature and you would have more money than you ever dreamed. The documents are set in front of you with a man goading you on to pen your name.
In the mid-1990s, I was faced with a similar decision. As a lawyer in Nigeria, I was offered a vast sum of money. All I had to do was sign some legal documents. The move would have transformed my life and that of my family. I would immediately become one of the “big boys” in town.
There was a catch. I had to collude with a top government official to defraud my country. Such practices happened quite often in the nation.
Because I was in God’s Way, I declined the offer. I had to quickly make a godly judgment—and not buckle under the pressure or temptation for a massive paycheck.
Beyond continuing to experience the blessings of obeying God’s Law, events eight years later confirmed that I made the correct choice. A new sheriff came to town who began cracking down on corruption. Many of those involved in the racket were rounded up and prosecuted. Some ended up in prison, while others lost their licenses to practice law.
Now, not all of us will face such a potentially life-changing decision. Yet all of us do make choices—and often they are not so cut and dried, black and white. As Christians, there are times in our lives when we must make difficult judgments. On top of this are the everyday decisions that come with being an adult.
A first step to building godly judgment is to recognize that God often calls the “foolish things of the world” into His truth (I Cor. 1:27). This is the typical starting point when we begin living God’s Way. The Greek word translated “foolish” is moros, from which comes moron. This word means “dull,” “stupid,” “heedless” and morally a “blockhead” (all definitions from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible).
Understanding this starting point helps us remain little in our own eyes. It makes us less likely to rely on ourselves—rather we look to God for help and seek His will. Yet moros is just a starting point. We should not remain in that condition!
Through His Spirit, God actively helps us transform our foolishness into wisdom. The gospel accounts are brimming with parables of “wise servants,” “wise men,” and “wise stewards.” These are types of individuals to whom Christ will give salvation.
The Greek word translated “wise” throughout the New Testament means “thoughtful,” “discreet” and using keen discernment and sound judgment.
Ultimately, our goal should not be to become a little bit wiser or have a little better judgment. Philippians 1:9 makes this clear. It states a desire from the apostle Paul: “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.”
Our love—God’s love in us!—is supposed to abound more and more in all judgment. “Judgment” here means “discernment” and “perception,” essentially meaning learning to make correct decisions.
How does abounding in love improve our decision-making skills?
Romans 13:10 begins to answer this question. It states that “love is the fulfilling of the law.” By diligently keeping God’s commandments and meditating on them “day and night” (Psa. 1:2), you will come to deeply understand God’s mind. Over time, you will be able to make good decisions in all areas of your life.
In Philippians 1, after stating that our love must abound in all judgment, Paul revealed the importance of growing this crucial spiritual skill. Managing decisions—both big and small—will allow us to “be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ” (vs. 10). That day will be here soon!
So what steps can you take now to build godly judgment?
We Are Not Robots
First know that God gives us ample opportunities to hone our mental judgment muscles. Every day, we decide what we spend money on, what we will eat, and what we watch on television. Though these are small matters, each of them says a lot about how much we understand God’s mind.
Facing a Difficult Decision?
Study God’s Word
Regular Bible study helps fill your mind with the way God thinks. On top of this, when faced with a more challenging decision, it is good to read or revisit verses that are specific to your situation.
Ask God for Guidance
Get on your knees and explain in detail the situation you are facing. If you need to make a split-second decision, say a quick, silent prayer.
When necessary, discuss the matter with a minister. This will allow you to talk through your situation and further bring God’s mind to your decision.
Consider that the Father could easily make all our decisions for us. Yet He allows us to make our own choices. As our Creator, He could have laid down exactly what He wants us to do for every given situation. In that case, the Bible would be a massive manual filled with instructions for every conceivable issue that may arise.
Yet God wants us to be like Him, which includes learning to be like Him. This is a process.
Our Creator made us in His image (Gen. 1:26). Like Him, we have the capability to make decisions. We can look at available facts pertaining to a situation and form unique opinions, estimates, notions and conclusions.
Animals act on instinct from the moment they are born. Robots are programmed. Yet human beings must learn practically everything through consistent trial-and-error, experience and choices.
Why? Because God does not want automatons as children. Ultimately, He wants to build a lively family of individuals who can think for themselves and make their own judgments.
We have also been given God’s Word to base our decisions on His will. As Christians, God expects us to “do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (I John 3:22). This requires us to make proper judgments and act on them. This is not always simple. Many problems do come with a “thus sayeth the Lord” pronouncement. Often there are nuances, gradations and subtleties.
In order to develop godly judgment, we must go to a spiritual source.
Ask God for It
Having a good sense of judgment requires wisdom. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines wisdom as “good sense” and “judgment.”
God’s kind of wisdom is not based on human reasoning. James 3:17 says that “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” Reread and meditate on each of these godly character traits. Determine to build them in your life!
True wisdom is anchored in God’s Law—His Word (Prov. 3:5-7; 14:12; Jer. 17:9; 10:23).
Wisdom is so vital to good judgment that, when Solomon was asked to request something from the Eternal, the king chose to ask for wisdom so that he could judge Israel (I Kgs. 3:5-12).
In addition, many scriptures dwell on the importance of wisdom. Proverbs 2:1-9 tells us to diligently “seek her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures.”
To develop good judgment, we must acknowledge first that wisdom is a gift from God (I Cor. 12:8). He promises in James 1:5: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him.”
But for wisdom to help build sound judgment, we must constantly exercise it (Heb. 5:12-14). God has given us some measure of freedom and wants us to use it in areas He has not explicitly laid out. Think of it as a test—God wants to see how we are putting our talents to work!
To exercise wisdom and good judgment, it is important to heed your conscience (God’s Spirit working in you). If you have any doubts about doing something, it is usually better not to do it.
Study God’s Word
Another way to build better decision-making skills is to constantly study and reflect on God’s Law.
Think about judges in the world. They ponder the laws that apply to each case. They reason and consider before arriving to a decision. Without doing this, a judge would not be able to make an appropriate ruling.
Similarly, the quality of our decisions is determined by how much of God’s Word we soak in and apply in our lives. Regular Bible study and meditation are absolute musts if we are to make sound, righteous and wholesome decisions.
Note the language in II Timothy 2:15. It says we must “study” the Word, not just simply read it. Study involves a detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or situation. We must spend quality time researching, dissecting and examining Scripture with the aim of deeper comprehension. Doing so will enable us to know and apply it to every situation.
Applying spiritual principles in everyday matters helps us be ready whenever bigger questions, concerns, problems, troubles and trials arise. But it will also prepare us to exercise godly judgment as well as manage others in the towns and cities of His Kingdom. Recall Christ’s words in Luke 16: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much” (vs. 10).
Know When to Seek Counsel
As you make decisions in life, you must never forget that you do not have all the right answers. Therefore, you must heed Proverbs 12:15: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” (English Standard Version).
On top of praying to God for wisdom and studying His Word, another place to receive advice is to counsel with a minister.
When it comes to seeking counsel, people fall into three categories. The first are those asking questions or seeking counsel for every little decision. Doing this, they are never confident in their own decision-making abilities and always want to be directed on what is proper. Also, constantly asking for guidance means a person will never grow in their own ability to decide right from wrong.
A second category are those never asking questions or seeking counsel. An individual doing this makes judgments, but he does what seems “right in his own eyes.” He feels he does not need anyone to guide or advise him.
Of course, neither of these categories are ideal—they are ditches in which human nature tends to fall. While it is not necessary to seek counsel on every little decision, we should avoid relying completely on ourselves or those unqualified to help with making weighty decisions.
Therefore, there is a third category for which everyone should strive: Knowing when, where and how to seek proper counsel. In instances when we are not sure what to do—after praying and studying the Bible and the Church’s literature—it is important to seek counsel from God’s ministry or Headquarters.
The key is to know when to seek counsel and from whom to seek it. This is why God “gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:11). Each office fills a different role, but the ministry’s overall job is for “the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ that we…may grow up into Him in all things…” (vs. 12-15).
We were called to inherit the Kingdom and rule with Christ. Only the chosen ones—those who responded to the call by living and practicing His way of life—will rule with Him (Matt. 22:14). We will not make it to this point without an abundance of God’s Spirit. It is His Spirit that enables us to discern the things of God (I Cor. 2:11-12, 14).
Look at the world. It is increasingly filled with complex problems. These require solutions that can only come from people filled with God’s Spirit who can make proper judgments.
The Holy Spirit enables us to judge rightly, provided we have exercised and nurtured it. I Corinthians shows that if we judge ourselves with God’s Spirit, we will not be judged by men: “But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man” (2:15).
Chapter 6 adds: “Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know you not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church” (vs. 2-4).
Pause and consider the judges of this world. Think of the Supreme Court justices of the United States and the hoary heads who sit in the House of Lords in the United Kingdom. These individuals include some of the brightest minds in the legal profession. They are well-read and skilled in navigating the nuances of man’s law. But, when Christ comes to the Earth and superimposes His judges, the world’s judges will be out of a job! We—the foolish and the weak of the world—will judge them.
Think of the awesome powers and magnificence of angelic beings. Add them to the list of those we will judge! Expand your mind to truly appreciate what this means. It is inconceivable to think that a person who is unable to make proper judgments on little matters in life will be given such great power—the authority and ability to judge angels based on their conduct. This is a huge privilege and responsibility. It is not a job for a novice.
To prepare for judging human beings and angels in the future, we are to judge things that pertain to this life (I Cor. 6:3). Never forget what is at stake: If we develop godly judgment now, we will soon rule as judges in the world to come!