One author wrote, “Choices are the hinges of destiny.” Another added, “The roads we take are more important than the goals we announce. Decisions determine destiny.” Put another way, destiny is not a matter of chance; it’s a matter of choice! We win or lose by the way we choose.

In childhood most of our decisions are made for us—when we get up, when we go to bed, what we wear, what we eat, where we go to school or church, etc. As we grow up we start taking the helm of our own lives. Some people who can’t handle that responsibility make bad choices and their lives spin out of control. Immature people do whatever feels good or sounds right at the moment. A sure sign of maturity is the ability to make wise decisions. The Bible has much to say about decision making.

The most important decision of our life is who we will serve. “…Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). This critical choice results in either heaven or hell for all eternity and should already be made. Jesus made it clear, “No man can serve two masters.” The song says it all—“I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.” Have you chosen once and for all to follow Christ? If not, decide today without delay.

The second most important decision of our life is who we will marry. Marriage should be entered carefully and prayerfully. Romantic feelings, physical attractions, and good looks only last so long. Dr. James Dobson uses a funny expression, “Love is blind, but marriage is the eye opener!” He advises people to go into marriage with both eyes wide open and then afterward to close one. Even a perfect marriage is made up of two very imperfect people. We all have flaws that our companions must be willing to overlook. Marriage is not round the clock romance. My dad, who was married to my mom for fifty-five years before she died, jokes, “Before marriage it’s moonlight and roses, but after marriage it’s daylight and dishes.” When the realities of life set in, love is a daily decision to overlook your spouse’s faults (and vice versa) and love them unconditionally regardless. Billy Graham’s late wife, Ruth, said it well, “Marriage is the union of two forgivers.”

The third most important decision of your life is what you will do for a living. Work is necessary and honorable and, if it’s done with a right heart, it becomes worship to the Lord. How important is a career to our Creator? So important that He sent His Son to earth to toil in a common trade until He launched His public ministry at age thirty. (I have a feeling He had a knack for making things. He was more than just a “carpenter”, He was the Architect of the Universe—He hung the stars in space, He put the moon in place.) When it comes to our career choices, God’s will should be paramount. God places Christians in the secular workforce not just to earn a living, but so they can be an influence for His Kingdom.

A good rule of thumb is to make decisions when you are emotionally stable. Emotions fluctuate like ocean waves and are thus unreliable. Don’t make major decisions when you are angry, depressed, tired, extremely happy or sad because emotions can cloud your judgment. A car dealership ran commercials during the college football bowl games encouraging fans of winning teams to celebrate by buying a new car. The same ad also urged fans of losing teams to cheer themselves up by buying a new car. Of course, no mention was made about whether customers actually needed or could afford a new car. Advertisers know how to appeal to our emotions in order to trigger impulse buying. But emotional decisions invite disaster and usually result in heartache and regret.

Another guideline for decision making is to consider the consequences. Take time to think things through and consider the “what if’s.” How will this decision affect my marriage, my family, or my spiritual well being? People often make bad choices and, when their life begins to unravel, wonder why God let them down. Choices either take us closer to or farther from God. Lot, Abraham’s nephew, made a major mistake—he “Pitched his tent toward Sodom” (Genesis 13:12). The next thing you know he was living in sin city and, consequently, lost his wife, his sons-in-law, and his two daughters were corrupted. Was it really worth leaving the blessing of his association with godly Abraham for “greener pastures”? No way! We have to count the cost.

Another key is to seek God’s guidance. He has promised to give us clear direction if we only bother to ask. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). Far too often we make decisions and then after the fact ask God to bless what we are doing. David frequently “inquired of the Lord” whenever he faced a crossroad. Scripture assures us “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalms 37:23) and the Holy Spirit is our guide to help us navigate the minefields of life.

I’m convinced that if you’re about to step out of God’s will, He will warn you first. You will sense a red flag in your spirit. God may use a spouse, a parent, a friend, or a minister to caution you. Don’t ignore the warnings and override God’s will. You’ll be glad you listened later. Choices are the hinges of destiny. Destiny is not a matter of chance; it’s a matter of choice. Choose wisely!