A Revealing Design
But one reason why God usually doesn’t give us specific guidance in our sometimes-perplexing decisions is that he places a higher priority on our being transformed than our being informed in order that we will be conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). That’s why Paul writes,
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
What does this mean? It means that God has a design in the difficulty of our discerning. The motives and affections of our hearts, or “renewed minds,” are more clearly revealed in the testing of ambiguous decision-making.
In Scripture, God reveals to us everything we need to know to live godly lives (2 Peter 1:3). And he knows that if he made his will for our specific decisions more explicit more often, we would tend to focus more on what we do rather than what we love. Like the Pharisees, we would tend to focus more on our actions rather than our affections.
But in decisions that require discernment, the wheat is distinguished from the tares. When we’re not quite sure, we end up making decisions based on what we really love. If deep down we love the world, this will become apparent in the pattern of decisions that we make over time—we will conform to this world.
But if we really love Jesus, we will increasingly love what he loves—we will be transformed by renewed minds. And our love for him and his kingdom will be revealed in the pattern of small and large decisions that we make.
The Pattern of Our Decisions
I say “pattern of decisions” because all of us sin and make mistakes. But conformity to the world or to Jesus is most clearly seen in the pattern of decisions we make over time.
That’s one reason why God makes us wrestle with uncertainty. He wants us to mature and have our “powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
The wonderful thing to remember in all of our decisions is that Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He laid down his life for us so that all of our sins are covered—including every sinful or defective decision. He will never leave us or forsake us. He has a staff long enough to pull us out of every hole and a rod to guide us back when we stray.
And someday, if we really seek to love him and trust him, we will see that he really was leading us through the confusing terrain of difficult decisions all along.