What guides your decision-making and daily living? How do you decide what time to get up? How do you decide what to eat for breakfast and lunch? How do you decide what to say to family, friends, and colleagues each day? How do you decide how much to spend on groceries? How do you weigh up whether to make a luxury purchase? How do you decide what to do with your evenings and Saturdays? How do you decide who to spend time with and what to spend time on? What guides your parenting decisions? How do you arrange your to-do lists? How do you decide what you’ll do on Sunday? How do you decide which church meetings to go to? How do you decide what to say ‘yes’ to and what to say ‘no’ to?
The Psalmist says: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). In other words, the Bible helps me see the way to go. The Psalmist considers the Bible to be critical to my decision-making. In the darkness, its role is to shine and clarify the choices God wants me to make. The picture isn’t of the Bible very occasionally having something to say – maybe once a week, or once a month. It’s offering me 24-7, practical guidance. “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it’” (Isa 30:21).
But, sadly, it’s very easy for Christians to act as though the Bible’s light-bulb has blown! We can treat our Bibles like a faint LED that offers no real guidance for our complicated, advanced modern lives. Our lack of reference to the Bible suggests it emits no light. Our lack of engagement with the Bible suggests we don’t actually think there is a chapter and a verse to shed light on all my decision-making.
“But there isn’t a Bible verse to tell me what time to get up!”, you say. No, but there are over 30 positive references to rising early in the Bible. Might not God be teaching you something about time-keeping with that?
“But the Bible doesn’t tell me what to put on my to-do list!”, you say. Well, actually, that’s exactly what it does do! It calls you to put a number of things on your to-do list that we often don’t put on there – prayer (1 These 5:17), showing hospitality (1 Pet 4:9), and visiting orphans (James 1:27), anyone?
“But the Bible doesn’t help me know how to handle this conflict”. Really? I counted about 40 characters in the book of Genesis alone. Most of them are acting and reacting to conflict in some shape or form. Don’t you think the Spirit of God has any light to shed on your path through them? There are about 800 proverbs in the Book of Proverbs alone. Surely at least one of them is relevant.
The Westminster Confession of Faith says: “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for… man’s… life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or… may be deduced from Scripture”. Reformed ministers were much more confident in how much the Bible has to say to us than we often are today. They encouraged a maximal reading, rather than minimal reading of Scripture. This doesn’t mean inventing rules out of Scripture that aren’t there. It doesn’t mean rushing to bind others’ consciences, but it does mean being shaped, and formed and contoured by the Bible’s vision.
The Bible is a book about Jesus, the Light of the world, and how Jesus came to conform us to his image (Rom 8:29). God’s gifted you with bright light to guide you. Are you convinced it works? Or do you secretly let yourself think it’s a duff gift? Are you secretly disappointed with its effectiveness? Could it be that sometimes, actually, we don’t really want to let its light shine in the dark corners of our decision-making? The Bible isn’t there for us to stare at, and just enjoy the glow; it’s there for us to actually use. God’s word isn’t just potentially and occasionally a lamp to our feet. It really lights up our path! “Walk as children of light” (Eph 5:8).