Applying the Character Quality of Decisiveness

Decisiveness vs. Double-Mindedness

4 min

Decisiveness is choosing to do what is right based on accurate facts, wise counsel, and clearly defined goals.

When Daniel faced a decision in Babylon about whether to obey the king’s edict or God’s commandment, it was not a difficult choice, because he had predetermined that he would obey God, whatever the cost. “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:8).

The Hebrew word translated purposed in this verse means “to establish, ordain; to determine.” God wants each of us to determine early in life that we will choose to do what is right, whatever the cost. He said, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

The Foundation of Wise Decisions

The first step in decisiveness is choosing whom we are going to serve with our lives. Our natural inclination is to serve ourselves. It is easy to devote our time, energy, and creativity to making money, believing that by getting money, we will enjoy all the material possessions that money can buy. We may realize, however, that it is wrong to serve money, and we may try to serve God as well as money. However, Jesus warned, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [riches]” (Matthew 6:24).

Deciding to follow God means setting aside everything that competes with Him. “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served …. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve … but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:14–15).

Deciding to follow God means setting aside everything that competes with Him.

How to Base Decisiveness on God’s Word

Wise decision making must be based on God’s will, not on our own carnal desires, because “there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Therefore, God warns, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered” (Proverbs 28:26).

Every decision that Jesus made was based on His heavenly Father’s will. He stated, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30). God’s will on a specific matter will be based on universal, non-optional principles of life that He established throughout all His creation and that He explains and illustrates in the Bible. These principles can be incorporated by asking the following questions when making a decision about a specific issue:

  • Is my use of resources consistent with the purposes for which God created them (money, food, clothes, marriage, family, time, friends, etc.)?
  • Whose jurisdiction am I under for this decision? (parents, employer, government, or church) Decisiveness must never violate the overall jurisdiction of God and the moral principles of His Word.
  • Can I make this decision with a clear conscience? Any caution from conscience or the counsel of authorities must also be considered.
  • Am I in harmony with all those involved in this decision? Decisions based on bitterness or anger are wrong and costly.
  • Have I yielded my rights on this matter? George Müller was a great man of faith and learned to understand the will of God in specific decisions. He explained that the secret was getting his own heart in such a state that he had no will of his own. A practical way to accomplish this is to list all of the benefits of each choice and to purpose to thank God for whatever choice He indicates is His will.
  • Will it weaken or damage anyone else? We are not to do anything that will cause a “weaker” brother to stumble, be offended, or be made weak. (See Romans 14:21.) Because of this, we are even to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:22).
  • Is this fulfilling God’s calling on my life? God calls each believer to fulfill an important role in the advancement of His kingdom and the damage of Satan’s kingdom. Every decision we make must be in harmony with these objectives. One’s calling will involve praying for and serving all authorities with good works and assisting the fatherless and widows, as well as the poor and those from other nations. Our primary calling is given in the Great Commission: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19–20).

Personal Evaluation

  • Have you made a commitment to do what is right, regardless of the cost?
  • Have you decided to serve God rather than money, fame, or pleasure?
  • Do you seek wise counsel before making a decision?
  • Have you purposed to discern God’s will in every decision and then to do it?
  • Do you make decisions based on impulse or on God’s Word?
  • Do you reject advice that is contrary to Scripture?
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