Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Some speculate that the average person makes over 750,000 decisions a year. A recent Cornell study concluded that the average person makes 221 decisions a day just related to food! That is a lot of deciding! Who could know for sure what the real number is? Certainly every day, all day, we make decisions. Some are big, such as “Where should I live?”, or “Should I say yes to this marriage proposal?”, or “Should I sell my company?” Some decisions are small, “Should I go to Burger King or eat at home for lunch today?” Every decision we make be it big or small, is significant and life changing. Our capacity to make decisions is what gives us our significance. Jean-Paul Sartre the French existentialist philosopher wrote: “It is in our decisions that we are important.”
If choices do have a role in shaping our signifigance, wouldn’t it be important to make decisions that are correct? But how do you know what the right decision is in any giving situation?
In Romans chapter 12, the Apostle Paul talks about two forces that shape our choices in life. One is what Paul calls the “pattern of this world”. Like a chameleon, it is easy to conform having our choices in life to be shaped by the prevailing patterns around us. For example, we may make lifestyle choices on what kind of car to drive, or clothes to wear, or recreational activities to choose primarily because the worldly circles of influence shape us and encourage us to conform to their patterns. When we make decisions in accord with the patterns of the world we often subconsciously ask ourselves questions related to the opinions of other people and the values of the surrounding culture. It is the path of least resistance.
Another force that can shape our decisions is what Paul calls “the will of God”. In order to be in tune with the will of God we must intentionally devote ourselves to the renewal of our minds through Christian discipleship, Bible Study and prayer. While in some instances the will of God may be along the lines of a prevailing culture, more often than not God’s will for our lives runs counter to the prevailing culture. This way of life requires intentionality. By making decisions in keeping with the will of God, we may find our lives running contrary to the pattern of the world—hitting resistance. The dividends of a life transformed by the will of God are many! Paul describes God’s will as “good, pleasing and perfect”.
The evaluative question is this: which force forms the basis for your choices and decisions in life? Is it the conformational force of the pattern of the world? Or is it the transformational force of the will of God? With any given moment it could be one or the other. The apostle encourages us that in view of all of the wonderful things that God has mercifully done for us, we should offer our lives to his service. He writes, “Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2
There are many ways to renew your mind: listening to sermons, meditation on God’s word in the Bible, having discussions with wise Christian friends, listening to Christian music, reading good Christian books. In order to make wise choices, the scriptures teach that we must be transformed from the inside out by the knowledge of God and his ways.
I hope and pray that as you go through this year that your 750,000 decisions (or however many there are) will be in keeping with God’s plan and desires for your life.