“There is no secret formula–only a life committed to a close walk with God.”
– Dillon Burroughs –
Today and next week, we’ll continue to learn about God’s will with a Q&A. I pray these things will spur you on toward knowing our amazing Savior! Blessings, my sisters!
Q: “I’ve noticed…[some] people trying to figure out God’s will…think they know what God’s will is and then after spending a huge amount of time on it, they realize it wasn’t exactly where God had wanted them to be.”
Often the problem is that people think they’re supposed to find out an exact choice that is stamped with “God’s Will,” when God never promises or even ASKS us to do that. The Bible doesn’t tell us the procedure for interpreting feelings of peace, nor does it give us an index of dream interpretation guidelines. Scripture rarely gives special revelation about an individual’s path, and even “super-Christians” like Luke (Gospel of Luke 1:3) and Paul (1 Thess. 3:1-2; Phil. 2:25-26) appear to have made many decisions based on what seemed like the good or right thing to do at the time, not on a heavenly revelation (see Decision Making and the Will of God, pages 168-169).
So, if there’s no solid measuring stick of what is supposedly “God’s will” or not (according to the subjectivity of the modern view), people will get confused. They will say, “Here’s God’s will,” and then a few months later say, “No, that’s not it–there it is!” A better thing for us to do as Christians is to say, “I believe this is the wisest decision” or “I think this will be best,” but not put God’s reputation on the line for a decision we make. It’s easy to shift the “blame” for an unpopular choice onto “God’s will,” but, sorry, that’s not a Scripturally-based idea. As long as there’s nothing in the Bible specifically commanding your decision, you’ll have to defend it yourself. I believe it is very dangerous to affix God’s approval to something unless He has signed it Himself.
Fear of “getting it wrong” can hold people back too. But, according to the Wisdom View of God’s will, we can’t just sit around waiting for divine messages. We’ve already been given the Divine Message! We have our marching orders! If the choice is 1) morally right and 2) wise, then we can choose it.
A final misconception is relevant to this situation: the idea that problems are an indication that you aren’t in God’s will. Really? Is that what the Bible says? God never promises that things will go well if you’re doing His will, at least not in this present world! In fact, Jesus says the opposite:
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NKJV).
Q: So is the Wisdom View just about logic? It doesn’t sound very spiritual.
A: No, not at all! God does call us to be logical, using what Donald Gee calls “sanctified common sense,” but making God-glorifying decisions–wielding that wisdom–is absolutely dependent on spiritual matters. Here are several helpful responses that can help us make the best decisions:
Six Actions of a Godly Decision-Maker
1. Be indwelled by the Holy Spirit
Only a Christian can make decisions that please God! If you want to do God’s will, the first order of business is to be His child, yielded to His plans.
“Do you know what the Spirit-filled life is? It is living every moment as though you are standing in the presence of Jesus Christ!… It is being saturated with the things of Christ with His Word, His Person.”
– John MacArthur, Found: God’s Will, page 26, 27-28 –
2. Read the Bible
First, find out if there is a command for your situation. If not, what is the wisest thing to do?
Just because God will most likely not speak to you in an audible voice doesn’t mean He doesn’t care about your decision. As you walk more closely with Him, you will grow in wisdom. Since you (hopefully) aren’t praying for writing in the clouds, what should you pray about? There are so many things: ask God for wisdom to choose well (James 1:5-8), pray that God would be glorified by your decision, pray for God’s working in your heart and in the hearts of others.
“Yes, it’s proper for Christians to pray to God and seek wisdom from God when we face decisions, even nonethical decisions. That’s not a bad idea. What is a bad idea is treating nonethical decisions as weightier than they really are because you think that there is One Right Answer that you must discover.”
Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something, page 64
4. Consider the circumstances
“Since circumstances provide the context in which a decision is made, they are a key source of wisdom for the decision maker. They must be evaluated, not to determine some clue from God, but to help decide the advisability of a course of action….Wisdom recognizes that every option has its advantages.”
Garry Friesen, Decision Making and the Will of God, page 262
5. Get Counsel
“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). Wise advice, especially from spiritual authorities or strong Christian friends, is key! Conferring with parents, leaders, and mentors is a great way to keep yourself accountable for your decisions.
6. Consider personal desires
It’s okay to be happy. Really. 🙂
I know that sometimes we think if we want to do it, it must not be God’s will. But that just isn’t true. Yes, sometimes God brings things into our lives that are not comfortable or fun or what we particularly wanted at the moment. But at the same time, we should not routinely choose the less-desirable option. God’s not out to make us miserable—He’s out to make us like Jesus. (For more about desires, stay tuned for next week’s continuation of our Q&A)
“You see, the will of God is not primarily a place. The will of God is not, first of all, for you to go there or work here. The will of God concerns you as a person. If you are the right you, you can follow your desires and you will fulfill His will.”
John MacArthur, Found: God’s Will, page 60
Q&A to be continued next week…