Every time we wrestle with a big decision, it seems that if there were just some way to KNOW God's will, following that plan would be the easy part!
Obviously, God's will in some areas of our lives is very, very clear. Scripture is plain on morality, salvation, and brotherly love and service. But what about the gray areas, vague unknowns? Should I date? How about marriage? When? Which job should I take? Should I move? While God doesn't speak directly to these issues, He has provided clear guidelines that should inform our decisions.
First, we need to grasp two premises in order to discover God's will for our lives.
- God wants to lead us, even more than we want to be led! Psalms 25:12-14 promises that God will instruct us, and that He confides in those who fear Him. The understanding of God's will is not reserved only for the spiritually elite.
- God's will is good. He always has our best interest in mind. Romans 12:2 says His will for us is good, pleasing, and perfect.
Second, there are two aspects of God's will.
- There are general, moral guidelines for all believers. For example, we are to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in EVERYTHING (1 Thessalonians 5:18), live sexually pure lives (1 Thessalonians 4:3), and be controlled by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:17-18).
- God's will can also be specific and individual. In Psalm 32:8 David wrote "God will instruct me in the way I should go," and Proverbs 16:9 tells us that although the mind of a man plans his way, the Lord directs his steps.
As you seek to develop a lifestyle of decision-making that honors God, I'd like to share 7 Principles to guide you through the process:
The Principle of Relationship
(John 15) Finding God's will is more "knowing a Who" than "discovering a what." We want a sign from heaven, or a formula to follow, but the key to wise decisions is a rich, abiding relationship with Jesus Christ!
The Principle of Obedience
(Mark 4:23-25) Be faithful to what God has already made clear, and He'll give you the grace to follow Him further. As we respond in obedience to the light He's already given, He gives more!
The Principle of Willingness
The Principle of Objectivity
An "objective perspective" is critical for our safety. Sincerity, personal experience, or circumstances are never a substitute for the truth.
How can we remain objective as we search for God's will? Search the Word! (Proverbs 2:1-5). Do your homework! Research the issues and develop a list of pros and cons (Prov. 12:27). Seek mature counsel! (Prov. 15:22.) Pray earnestly! (Prov. 19:21.)
What pitfalls do you need to avoid? Refrain from making decisions based solely on circumstances or feelings, and don't demand that God provide you with miraculous signs along the way.
The Principle of Promptings
Listening, solitude and repeated "seemingly insignificant" impressions provide fertile ground for God's still, small voice to speak. Get alone, ask God what you should do, quiet your heart, and LISTEN. Then, test your prompting. Is it consistent with God's Word? Does it serve others and glorify God? Is it consistent with your gifts and calling? Be warned to reconsider a prompting if: it demands a major life change in a short amount of time; mature counselors who know and love you question it; it causes you to shatter important relationships; if it requires that you go deep into debt; if it puts others in an awkward or compromising position.
The Principle of Faith
(Hebrews 11:6) Does this decision demand faith? Faith requires us to take risks, to accept the unseen over the seen, to focus on the eternal rather than the temporal, and often demands that we make "front-end" sacrifices in exchange for long-term gain.
The Principle of Freedom
God's will is a highway, not a tightrope! If you honestly want to please God, you can't go wrong if you stay within His guidelines.
God's will is not a dot on a map to be hit or missed. It's a road to be traveled as you follow His precepts. The older you get in the faith, the less God has to do to steer you in the right direction. So relax, make good choices based on what you know, and God will honor them by revealing His will. Jesus says, "...my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Excerpted from EdgeNotes, the bimonthly newsletter of Living on the Edge. Used with permission. Copyright 2000 by Chip Ingram. All rights reserved.
Chip Ingram is President of Walk Thru the Bible in Atlanta, GA, and Teaching Pastor of Living on the Edge, a national radio ministry.
Walk Thru the Bible partners with the local church worldwide to teach God's Word in relevant ways for lasting life change. To fulfill this mission, Walk Thru the Bible creates and distributes high quality, award-winning resources in a variety of formats, helping individuals "walk thru" the Bible with greater clarity and understanding. Walk Thru the Bible seminars are taught in over 45 languages by more than 50,000 men and women in over 90 countries; Living on the Edge radio ministry broadcasts on more than 800 radio outlets reaching nearly one million listeners a week; and more than 100 million devotionals have been packaged into daily magazines, books and other publications that reach over five million people each year. Walk Thru the Bible was founded in 1976 and is based in Atlanta, GA.