Sunday, 13 February 2011

So how do we find God's will for our lives?

Having spent some time seeing what the Bible does NOT teach about discerning God's will for our lives, the question naturally arises, how are we supposed to discern God's will for our lives? What I'll say is really a quick summary of the position put forth in 'Decision Making and the Will of God'. You can read a more in-depth summary of this position by the authors on their website over here. If you have a deep interest in this subject I suggest looking into those resources.

The first thing to recognise is that while God does have a plan for our lives which includes things like who we'll marry and what career we'll pursue, nowhere does he promise to tell us this plan in advance. This is the kind of thing we know only as it happens. Are we left without guidance then? How are we to make decisions that please God?

We should acknowledge that God's moral will is sufficiently revealed in the Bible

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Our first course of action is to make sure that our choices allign with God's moral will - that we do not do anything that he has commanded against. This is the first filter that narrows our viable choices down. But what about when several options are available, of which none are morally forbidden? What if going to college or pursuing an apprenticeship are both on the table, and none would have immoral consequences? What does God expects of us?

Well, God gives us FREEDOM to choose, with the expectation that we'll use our freedom responsibly. He expects us to use our freedom to efficiently pursue spiritual goals.

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Jesus' words in Matthew 6:28-33)

So how do you decide whether you should go to college or go for an apprenticeship? Well think with wisdom: which will be most beneficial for God's people and to the kindgom or which will produce the most goodness? And consider also, which is best suited to my talents? Which would I enjoy? Yes, desire can factor into it. If you are contemplating two different jobs, one of which you hate, why go for that? It is hard to perform a job well if you loathe it. If you enjoy it you will naturally put more effort and concentration into it.

Weighing these factors together can be tough but God has given us the privilege of being responsible agents. It is good that we are not mere puppets needing explicit commands for every smallest action. We have more dignity than that.

This then is a Godly decision making process. Could God give us special communication telling us to pursue a particular job? Yes, absolutely. Has he promised to? No. But if he does do it, it will be CLEAR. Don't frustrate yourself by trying to analyse your inner life and outer circumstances to discern messages from God. He revealed his will for us sufficiently in the Bible so we could know him. What a blessing! We should have such a deep appreciation for God's Word.

Be cautioned however that making decisions in this way doesn't guarantee that our plans will succeed. If in choosing our spouse we make no moral blunder, nor neglect any wisdom, we still have no special guarantee from God that the marriage will be a great success or will not end in divorce. Exercising God-given wisdom will obviously decrease the chances of this happening, but when we've done all we can we are left to trust God to work out all the details and take care of us no matter how that decision pans out. We are required to trust in and pin on hopes on God, rather than the circumstances of our lives. 


Susanna said...

Very good, Martin! A good way of summing up your series on the topic.. It helped me understand better what you wanted to say with the whole thing. Keep up the good work.

Susanna (in the highest)

Martin said...

Thanks Susanna! I'm quite pleased to wrap the subject up as it was very prolonged over the Christmas period >.<

Time for something fresh

*sings Susanna in the highest*