God’s Will

August 12, 2008

There is a million dollar question in evangelical Christian circles. Do you know what it is? “How can I discover God’s will for my life?” We often ask this question when trying to make decisions about situations where it is impossible to measure and evaluate every variable we are confronted with. Life is fluid and unpredictable, constantly throwing us all kinds of off-speed pitches such as:

  • A job opportunity in another city;
  • A broken-down vehicle that leaves us wondering whether we should buy new or used for our next car purchase;
  • The decision to send your children to public, private or even consider homeschooling;
  • Wondering whether or not you should request an increase in compensation from your employer;
  • Whether or not we should take a romantic relationship with the opposite sex to a higher level of commitment;
  • Whether or not we should take out a $500,000 or $1,000,000 life insurance policy;

And there are, of course, hundreds of more examples. There are some things in life where there are no easy answers to the questions we have about how we should proceed. This is the challenge of honoring God in all of life.

Unfortunately, when considering God’s will, some people think of God’s will as some kind of nebulous, mystical plan that God only reveals once we meet certain conditions. They think of God’s will as revealed almost exclusively in signs or special circumstances. Some people often eagerly wait for another special revelation from God apart from His Word. While I don’t want to be quick to dismiss the reality that God does still speak in a variety of ways in the world, we should not seek these other ways to the exclusion of God’s primary way of speaking to us. The reality about God and His will for our lives is that He has made it pretty clear to us what He expects of us through His Word. In other words, if you want to know and discern what God’s will for your life is about any given situation, you should begin by seeking to learn and apply what is pleasing to Him first and foremost. The Apostle Peter would say it this way, “God has already given you the power to navigate life through His Spirit. Everything you need for life and godliness are yours. They are gifts to be had and enjoyed through your growing knowledge of the Son of God Jesus Christ” (2Pet 1:3). And how does our knowledge of Jesus grow? Through getting to know Him as revealed in God’s Word.

Tim Challies in his excellent book The Disipline of Spiritual Discernment offers the following principles we can use to seek and follow God’s will in matters that Scripture may not address directly.

  1. Where God’s commands are explicit, obey immediately, joyfully and without question. There is no need for you to wrestle with issues addressed clearly in Scripture. Husbands should provide for their families. Honor your marriage bed and avoid sexual infidelity. Pay your taxes (i.e., give Caesar what is Caesar’s). Obey your governing authorities. Worship together with other believers in the local church regularly.
  2. Where the Bible offers no explicit guidance, God gives us both freedom and responsibility. Do not choose recklessly or without reasonable consideration to all variables, but rather with prayer and guidance by Scripture. Choose on the basis of what you know about the character of God.
  3. Where the Bible offers no explicit guidance or command, God gives us wisdom and discernment to choose what we will do. Seek wisdom and exercise discernment (wisdom in action) so that you can make decisions that honor him.
  4. When you have chosen what is moral and wise, trust God to work all the details of your decision together for good as you seek to love, know and obey Jesus fully. Express confidence that God is faithful and eager to bring about purposes in your life that reflect the glory of His name.
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