The term “seven seas” is used to describe all the oceans of the world. To say that one has sailed the seven seas means literally that the person has navigated all of earth’s seas. Many times, however, the term is used figuratively to refer to a person who has traveled widely and has a wealth of experience. The “Seven C’s” of this article has no connection with the term “seven seas,” but if we extend this figure of speech a little, we could say that just as a person who has sailed the seven seas knows how to navigate the oceans of the world, so the Christian who has used the seven C’s of biblical decision making knows how to navigate the Sea of Life. Navigating the Sea of Life should not be viewed as a “hit or miss” decision-making adventure. While the Christian life can be exciting, it should not be a “hope-for-the-best” string of decisions. Every decision can be made with the confidence that God is in control. Although every person’s life consists of the sum total of a lot of decisions, Christians can be confident that God will help them make right ones (Jas. 1:5-6). Although bad decisions will be made along the way, let’s not get the idea that mistakes will cast us permanently adrift on the Sea of Life. When we acknowledge our mistakes and look to God, He provides us with navigational aids to make proper course corrections.
Isaiah 30:21 above is just one of many promises of navigational help God has given in His Word. This verse assures us that when we come to decisions about compass headings on the Sea of Life, the Lord will tell us “this is the way; walk in it.” While this promise is directed to the nation of Israel that will return in faith to the Lord, it can be applied to Christians. The Holy Spirit lives in us, and we have the promise that God will “never leave us nor forsake us” (Heb. 13:5), so we can be assured that He will guide us when it comes to decision making! We may not literally hear His voice, but we can be sure that God will not leave us adrift when it comes to decisions on the Sea of Life.
The “Seven Cs” are the means God uses to guide us in the decision-making process. We could call them navigational aids for plotting our course and making corrections on the Sea of Life. All seven Cs are important and we could start with any of them in the decision-making process. But communication is by far the most important. The primary way God communicates with us is through His Word, and the way we communicate with Him is through prayer.
Scripture not only contains the navigational charts, it also supports the other Cs. When it comes to making decisions, most of what we need to know is quite obvious from Scripture. Questions about lying on a job application or marrying a non-Christian shouldn’t require an in-depth decision-making process because the answers are easy to find in Scripture. When it comes to decisions about which job applications to fill out, or who is the right Christian to marry, the Bible gives us guidelines which help us make the right decisions.
For example, the biblical guidelines in Deuteronomy 6:7 and Hebrews 10:24-25 indicate that you should not apply for a job which would prevent you from meeting family and church responsibilities. If you are single and believe God wants you to serve as a missionary in another land, a potential spouse that does not share your burden for missions should not be on your list if you consider Genesis 2:18 and Amos 3:3. The more biblical guidelines for making decisions you know, the more obvious will be your course of action.
Needless to say, prayer is also vital for making decisions. In 1 Peter 5:7 we are told to “cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” Does this include concern about making the right decisions? Of course! If God has promised us again and again in Scripture that He cares about us, certainly He will answer our prayers for help in making decisions about such things as jobs, colleges, careers, churches, marriages, families, ministries, finances, etc. But He wants us to pray! Even though God knows all about us and the decisions we should make, He still wants us to communicate our thoughts to Him and our dependence upon Him for making these decisions. Good parents know what’s best for their child, but they still want that child to communicate the need for help. God wants us to communicate with Him about our decisions.
Besides communication, God uses the other Cs to give us further help on the Sea of Life. They are vitally necessary because any one by itself can be misused, including the Scriptures. Because of our sinful nature, we are adept at making the Bible confirm just about any decision we make! However, when the other Cs are taken into account, our misuse of the Bible is held in check. The same is true when the other Cs are mishandled. For example, the inner convictions of the Holy Spirit, another important “C” of decision making, must be closely examined. Every Christian has convictions because the Spirit lives in every believer. These convictions will always be in line with God’s perfect will and are therefore crucial when it comes to making right decisions (Jn. 14:26; 16:13; 1 Jn. 2:27). The problem comes when we confuse the Spirit’s convictions with the cravings of our sinful natures. We are able to convince ourselves that God is leading us to make certain decisions, when in reality our own desires are leading us to selfish “stamps of divine approval.” How many times has the expression “the Lord told me” been used to mask the reality of “I told the Lord”? Convictions must always be carefully examined in the light of all the Seven Cs to insure against self-delusion.
3. Common Sense
Common sense is a “C” that we generally take for granted, yet it is definitely a means God has given us to make decisions. In fact, most decisions are made by using common sense. God does not require Christians to kiss their brains goodbye upon conversion! Does He expect us to pray about what shoes to wear or whether to brush our teeth? I think not! Instead, God expects us to use the common sense He’s given us concerning shoes and teeth, and let Him fit these small decisions into the overall pattern of our lives. Common sense is part of the navigational system that God has given us and it’s our responsibility to use it for wise decision making about common, everyday matters.
How God made us is what the “C” of composition is all about. The way God sovereignly put us together – as to our likes, dislikes, looks, brains, abilities and spiritual gifts – is actually the means that God uses to help us make decisions. For example, would the Lord guide you to become a singer or a pianist for His glory if He hasn’t blessed you with that ability? Probably not! (See Ps. 33:3, and notice the word “skillfully.”) However, God may guide you to say “yes” to involvement in a youth ministry if you like kids and have the ability to relate to and communicate with them. First Peter 4:10 tells us that we should use “whatever gift we have received to serve others, administering God’s grace in its various forms.” On the Sea of Life, God gets the best use out of His tugboats, tankers or fishing boats when they do what they were designed to do!
The counsel of mature Christians is another of the seven Cs God uses to help us make decisions. Proverbs 11:14 says that “many advisors make victory sure.” While there is always a danger that one advisor may have a biased opinion about the situation and give you a bad “compass reading” that leads you off course, the key in decision making is to consult a number of godly men and women who have experience navigating the area where you need to make a decision. They’re like channel markers that can point out possible dangers! This is the way the body of Christ works. As various parts of your physical body help your hand “decide” how to do something, so the different members of the body of Christ function to help each other.
Circumstances are another one of the Seven Cs of God’s guidance system. If God is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-seeing, is there any circumstance that escapes His notice or control? There is nothing that happens by mere chance. If our heavenly Father is sovereign, can He not control circumstances to lead us to make right decisions? Yes! God knows those special niches in life that are just right for each of us, and He can send the right winds across the sea of life to move us to the port that’s best for us!
Those proverbial “open” and “closed” doors that believers talk about really do exist! They’re not just a naive view of circumstances, but rather a working definition of circumstances God has given to help us. But again we must be careful about making decisions based only on circumstances. What looks at first like a closed door might actually be a door waiting to be knocked on (Mt. 7:7.) And an apparently open door may not really be open. A job offer with a higher salary does not necessarily mean that God is directing us to move to a new location. It’s possible for Satan to manipulate circumstances. This is often his strategy to blow us off course (2 Cor. 2:11; 11:14.) Let’s not be afraid to prayerfully analyze the circumstances God uses in His navigational system. The proper use of the other Cs will keep us from reading too much into circumstances.
Finally, there are times when God steps in and takes control of the decision-making process. Sometimes there is no question that God is indicating what decision He wants us to make. A model train operator normally monitors the movement of the model trains by remote controls. Sometimes, however, he reaches into the layout and straightens out a boxcar or engine with “hands-on” control. In the same way, God sometimes reaches in and takes control of our situation and we are no longer even involved in the decision! In the normal decision-making process, for example, a good offer on our house may or may not be an indication that God wants us to move. But if our house burns to the ground, we can be sure God wants us to move, regardless of the cause of the fire! Although this isn’t a pleasant illustration, it makes the point that sometimes the Lord takes decision making completely out of our hands.
When we are suddenly removed from one ministry and find ourselves in a new one without having made any decisions ourselves, it’s probably a good indication that God is guiding us by His control. Sometimes God steps in and controls our decision because, even though some of the other Cs seem to be pointing us a one way, He wants us to go a different way. For example, God used “control” in Paul’s life concerning his going to Bithynia or Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10). At others times God controls our decision because He knows of some danger that common-sense decision making would miss. And sometimes God just graciously chooses to deliver us from doubt in the decision-making process.
The Sea of Life can be very troubling at times and there are always hazards to avoid. Knowing and using God’s navigational system of the “Seven Cs” helps the growing Christian to make good decisions – decisions that help us avoid disaster and lead us to follow God’s will for our lives.
By David R. Reid
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org