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Even biblical decision making is an imperfect process. You’re subjective. You’re also working from a fallen condition that is not sanctified entirely. And you’re working with limited data. It’s not unusual to make a decision and then have buyer’s remorse.
I’m sure after Peter decided to get off the boat, to walk to Jesus, he doubted (Matthew 14:28-33). There are times when the Lord orchestrates adverse outcomes from your decisions (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). At other times, you make a poor decision. But before you change your mind about something that you thought was the right thing to do, make sure you assess yourself.
Be Teachable – Humility is a gift from God (James 4:6). Ask God for this mercy and pursue it aggressively. It is the best gift when making a decision. Coming to the Father with a “not my will, but your will be done” attitude is the way you want to begin the process of making a decision or rethinking a past decision.
Be Suspicious – If you understand that the log is in your eye (Matthew 7:3-5), you will be humbly suspicious of yourself. It is wise to think that you could be wrong in a matter. Suspicion does not have to be fear-based, but it must be discernment based. You are self-deceived in certain areas. You have blind spots. You are in the wrong place if you think you have all the answers. Healthy suspicion is a good thing.
Pray Often – Talking to God should go without saying, but I will say it anyway. Spend much time with your Father, seeking and asking while expressing gratitude for his continued acceptance of you and favor in your life. Pray much (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Search the Scriptures – The Bible will give you direct and indirect commands. Scriptures will tell you directly not to commit adultery, not to steal, and not to get drunk. It will say to serve others, to forgive others, and to be kind to others. The Bible is clear in many ways.
And the Bible does not speak specifically to every situation, like whether you should go to college or start a Roth IRA. You can apply some ideas to your life directly. There are other things where you want to move cautiously. Either way, the Bible gives you all you need for life and godliness. See 2 Peter 1:3.
Seek Counsel – You will find wisdom and safety in counsel (Proverbs 24:6). Seek those who are a little farther down the road than you are. Though I’m not opposed to peer counseling, I would caution anyone about receiving counsel from those who are similar to you. Find the individuals you trust and who possess the wisdom to speak to your situation.
Even abiding by the best methods found in the Bible, it is possible to make a decision that you regret. Perhaps it is the wrong decision. Maybe it’s the right thing to do, but you’re struggling with doubt. Fortunately, the solution is not that complicated. Here are two guiding truths that can help when it comes to second-guessing your decisions.
It’s okay to change your mind as long as your new decision is biblically better and biblically permitted. Perhaps new information that you didn’t have came to light after you made the initial decision. Here are three examples that will illustrate this idea.
Example #1: You change your mind about being married.
To get married is a biblical, God-honoring decision, but there are three ways in which you can “change your mind” about being married. Death is the one “change” that you have no control over; it happens and you have to change your mind. The other two options that allow you to change your mind are abandonment and adultery, as spelled out in 1 Corinthians 7 and Matthew 19.
These three conditions permit you to “change your mind” about being married. But it’s important to know that biblical permission to leave your marriage–according to options two and three–does not mean you should leave your marriage. Though Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 7 are part of God’s infallible Word, the greater point of God’s entire Word is reconciliation.
From Genesis to Revelation, the purpose of God’s Word is God reconciling himself to individuals. Just because you may have an “out,” it does not mean you have to take it, though, under these three stipulations outlined in God’s Word, you can change your mind about your marriage.
Example #2: You can change your mind if you are in sin.
If you choose to commit adultery, for instance, to change your mind is not only preferable but expected. In such a case, you made a decision to sin, and at some point afterward, you came to another decision. You have new information, and you believe it is better than the past information–the choice to sin. In such a case, you change your mind and begin living according to the new information. This change of mind is also called repentance.
Example #3: You can change your mind if there is new or better information.
You make all kinds of decisions throughout your life. You base these decisions on the information you possess at the time. Later, based on new data that you have or different circumstances, you decide another course of action is the best route to take. Maybe you have received better counsel. Perhaps there is new information, and now you have come to a different awareness.
It may not have been a sin to make the first decision, as opposed to example #2, which is sinful, but now you realize it would be better to change your mind. In such cases, it is not sinning to change your mind. Though you were in faith before, you are no longer in faith to stay in the same place. You change your mind and move forward in a different direction, with a new belief.
Changing your mind happens all the time with progressive sanctification (1 Corinthians 13:11). There are many things that I believed were right when God first regenerated me, but I have come to a different place in my faith at this time.
I’ve changed my mind on the type of Bible I read, the clothes I wear, the music I listen to, and the places I go. There are many more areas where I have changed my mind, and I hope that I continue to change my mind on many things throughout my life. If you want to mature as a Christian, you must change your mind in ways that are biblically better and biblically permitted.