The Way of Life

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says this, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days, and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

So much of the reality that we currently live in has been determined by our choices. In fact, every day we are presented with choices in our lives and in our finances that either lead to life or to death, to blessing or cursing, to prosperity or poverty. So many of us have become so entangled by culture and so accustomed to the voice of materialism that we don’t even recognize the path to life anymore. As a child, we walked blindly into situations, our confidence emboldened by our knowledge that our parents were right there to save us if we got in over our heads. What makes us wiser as adults? How do we go about making wise choices with our finances? How do we find the path that leads to life? How do we choose life?

I think if you are really going to be free in your finances and begin to get God’s vision for your family and your life, you have got to answer that question. How do you determine what is life and what is death for you and your family. I struggled to write yesterday’s blog for this very reason. You can have all of the information about the paths before you, and your “options” but if there is not life in it, you don’t want to go down that road. I think the answer to choosing life and not death lies in four parts:

The very first thing is to seek wise and Godly counsel. I know so many people would say take it to God first, and in your heart you absolutely should. However, I truly feel in my own life, when I am faced with a choice, many times as I am first beginning to look at my choice, I really struggle to hear the voice of God. Sometimes it is because I am in fear. Sometimes it is ignorance. Mostly when I try to hear God’s voice in that valley of indecision, I just find myself paralyzed and not able to hear at all. So Matt and I will pray about the decision, but then we will get wise counsel from several sources and listen to what they have to say. When we were deciding what to do about starting a retirement plan, we had no clue what to even pray about, beyond direction. So we went to the most successful and wealthy men we knew and asked for their advise. We read books and researched as well, and in that process of seeking the way of life, we slowly began to identify what it would look like for our family. There is something about getting wise counsel that helps you sort out what is in your own heart and even hear the voice of God more clearly. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” It’s not that you have to do exactly what your counselors say, in fact many times it might be a combination of what different voices of wisdom have spoken into your life, but when you try to do it all on your own without counsel, it is always a much more dangerous and slippery road to life. It is just much harder to hear the voice of God and determine the path of life in isolation, and that is why He has given us a family of believers around us. So get wise counsel.

The next thing is to start to get a plan. This is simply the process where you start to put together what feels right in your heart. For instance, begin to work out… “Do I have peace about this element? If no, why don’t I have peace?. What do I feel good about? Where is the way of wise counsel? What is the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart?” As you begin to wrestle through your own heart, many times you will start to see where the way of life is, even if you don’t have all the details. Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” It doesn’t say, “Don’t plan until you get direction.” The Bible seems to indicate, go ahead and start to plan and then see how God will direct you in that. Many times it is only as you start to move that you will feel that check in your heart that “No, this isn’t the way of life,” or that joy of feeling, “Wow, God is in this and has gone before me.” If you feel the check, it is never too late to stop and turn around. Don’t ever violate your heart and your Spirit. But if your heart is after His leading, you can trust that as you begin to move, He will lead you and direct your steps.

The third element is to be in agreement. If you and your spouse cannot come into agreement about which path is the way to life, you absolutely can not go any further along the path. As I have said earlier, the power of agreement is so vital in a marriage and such a gift. If one of you does not have peace, it is a great indicator that either the timing is wrong and you need to wait, or that it is not a path of life for your family. When you violate your spouse’s peace in order to push your way down a path, you are setting yourself up for death: death in trust in your relationship, death in the power of agreement, and really death in your finances. The worst financial decisions are made in isolation, in fact, the worst decisions are made in isolation. This is true if you are single as well. Ask someone you trust who really knows your heart to come along side you. It might be a parent or a pastor or just a dear friend, but don’t make huge decisions in isolation. God never intended you to walk alone. I Corinthians 12:26-27 says, “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” The whole chapter in I Corinthians 12 is about our calling to walk in relationship with one another. You don’t have to choose life and death alone. If you have drawn away and become isolated, ask the Lord to show you who He has put into your life to speak into your life and to help you when you are at a crossroads.

And finally and most importantly, ask the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s leading is so vital and yet I put it last because sometimes we “hear” through filters of our fear or ignorance. As you get informed and talk through things with people you trust, many times the answer will become more and more sure in your heart and you will see that the Holy Spirit has been leading you all along the process. However, sometimes when you are asking for an answer before you even know what to ask, you can become paralyzed by uncertainty and even fear and call it “waiting to hear from God”. It is so much easier to steer a car that is already in motion and I think that is many times true of our hearts in our journey. It just seems that it is so much easier to hear the voice of God when you are already in motion. His heart IS to speak to you.

Jesus said in John 10:27 that “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” When you know how good He is as a shepherd and how you can trust His voice, it is so much easier to recognize His voice. His heart for you is only life. Jesus said, that when the Holy Spirit had come He would “guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13) You are never alone as you choose life or death. Thank God we have the Holy Spirit to lead us into truth. I believe that as you walk through this process of seeking wise counsel, starting to plan, getting agreement or even the lack of agreement, and really seeking to hear His voice, that the Holy Spirit is the one leading you every step of the way. It’s like your life is a dance and the Holy Spirit is the music. You still learn the steps and maybe get a teacher, but none of it makes sense without His orchestration behind it. Trust His heart for you, even if the answer is no. Sometimes the choice of life is just not to violate your peace (in other words, going ahead and doing something even though you have no peace, and just because you feel pressure to do it). There really is never a deadline if you don’t have peace.

In closing I want to go back to the verse I started with, ““I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life…” God will make it clear to you which one is life and which one is death, but even though the path might come clearly marked, and you may know exactly which path the Holy Spirit is leading you to choose, you still have to choose. It is up to you. And I just want to exhort you, don’t go stubbornly down the path of your own desires and even lusts of the flesh. It will only lead to death. If you have been choosing death, against counsel, against agreement, and against your Spirit, it is never too late to turn around. Jesus said, “ I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Abundance doesn’t lie on the path of death, so turn today, open your heart again to God and choose life.