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Find God’s Will By Ignoring the Decision at Hand

Quick! Tell me: What is God’s will for your life?

You don’t know? Why not? You’re a Christian, aren’t you? Aren’t you reading the Bible and praying? Surely, you should be in tune with God’s will.

The Questions

  • Which college should you or your child attend?
  • Whom should you marry?
  • Which career should you pursue?
  • Should you buy or rent a home?
  • Where in the Church should you invest your time?

Do you have a clear message from God on all these questions?

Me neither.

Looking For A Sign Can Be Sinful

Far too many Christians think God is in the business of oracles.

Look at the Old Testament prophets, though. The vast majority of the messages they delivered had nothing to do with the future. The message of the prophets was primarily God’s word to God’s people about God’s grace and the people’s need for repentance.

When the Pharisees set out to decide if Jesus was the Messiah, they asked for a sign.

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “…An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.
Matt 16:1,4

God hasn’t ever been in the business of oracles.

Expecting God to miraculously instruct us on our decisions isn’t biblical. We don’t need to be spoon fed the will of God. We need wisdom to discern it. But how do we get this wisdom? Before finding such wisdom, we need to determine that wisdom is.

Wisdom Isn’t What You Think It Is

Would you like the wisdom to see God’s will? What if it’s nothing like you think? In the world’s eyes, wisdom is the ability to apply your experience to make good decisions. The Bible doesn’t speak about wisdom in the same terms:

The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
James 3:17

When God gives us wisdom, it manifests as godly character. But how does that help us make decisions?

What To Do With Godly Wisdom

King David, with his heart following after God (1 Sam 13:14), desired something:

Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.”
2 Sam 7:1-2

David – following after God – began to long after something. He wanted to build God a temple. How did Nathan, God’s prophet, counsel him?

And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.”
2 Sam 7:3

Let’s recap:

  1. David pursued God in his heart. That is, David was on the path of true, godly wisdom.
  2. David had a longing in his heart.
  3. David was encouraged to follow that longing.

How do we achieve the same results?

Follow These Steps

  1. Ask: “Am I seeking God and His kingdom in my life?” If you seek God and His kingdom first (Matt 6:31-33), He will transform your mind (Rom 12:2) and your desires (Psalm 37:4). This is the foundation of biblical decision-making. Don’t focus on the decision. Focus on Christ.
  2. Ask: “Is there an option that dishonors God?” Utilizing the wisdom from above (i.e. godly character), decide if one (or more) choice doesn’t promote the glory of God. This is a good time to get advice from other Christians.
  3. Decide: Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you. Seriously. Go do it.

This is often called “sanctified reasoning” and it is the way God wants us to live our lives.

An Example

Should I marry this person?

  1. In general, am I seeking God and His kingdom in my life? If your highest concern isn’t the glory of God, if your chief joy isn’t found in the gospel, you won’t have wisdom from above.
  2. Would your marriage to this person detract from the glory of God or serve it?
  3. God has changed your heart and mind (Step 1) and guided you about the decision’s worthiness (Step 2). Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.

Don’t focus on the decision. Focus on Christ.

God’s will for you is that you throw yourself wholeheartedly into the desires of your renewed heart and mind.

__________________

Further Reading:
How to suffer to the glory of God
How to give a eulogy for a Christian
The remedy for all human problems

Image by The White Whale Collective


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5 thoughts on “Find God’s Will By Ignoring the Decision at Hand

  1. Hi Dave,

    I’m really liking your site and I’ve subscribed to get your posts by email. I did want to reply to this post, though, because although I agree heartily with much of what you said, I know that in my own life, I was influenced negatively for a long time by a line of thinking that says that God does not speak directly to us today. This line of thinking emphasizes that God gives us wisdom to make decisions, but never speaks directly to us.

    I’m not sure if you would be that categorical in your denial that God speaks to us, but you come close to it in your post when you say that “expecting God to miraculously instruct us on our decisions isn’t biblical.”

    I can agree with that if what you mean is expecting God to always miraculously instruct us on our decisions. I do not agree however with the idea that expecting that God might have some specific word for us in a given situation is unbiblical. How can such an idea be supported in light of the clear biblical evidence in the book of Acts that the Holy Spirit often spoke to the church and to individuals in it.

    While I don’t like to see believers running after their own premonitions and whimsies as if everything were a “word from the Lord”, I am also grieved when the Holy Spirit is treated only as a vague influence on our character, rather than as a person who is to be encountered and related to. I long for God to speak to me, but I don’t demand it, and I treasure it when it happens. I’ve also learned with age and experience in the faith that God is speaking much more often than I think, I just need to have ears to hear the still small voice which may come in ways and from directions that I don’t always expect.

    Your thoughts? I think I have somewhere a study that I did on this. I’ll try to find it and send it to you.

    Bryan

    1. Bryan,
      Thanks for both your blog and for your thoughts on this post. I think I’m in agreement with you. I absolutely think God can and does speak clearly to his children. My short summary would be this:

      “Don’t ignore God’s leading, but God doesn’t want us hanging around waiting for an oracle.”

      Thoughts?

      In Christ,
      Dave

  2. Hi Dave,

    As always, I’m challenged by your blogs and I look forward to them when they come into my inbox. This one, however, left me scratching my head a bit. Not because it doesn’t have wisdom in it, but because it dismisses out of hand any other way by which God may instruct his people. Then again, I’m not so sure this was your aim but more the result of the article’s structure (taking the anchor scripture, formulating steps based on the King David story, then illustrating them in a way that implies anything else outside of the outlined view is less desirable or even dangerous). Maybe if you could expand on what you mean by finding other verses of scripture that support this? I’m not against the teaching itself but, as Bryan pointed out already in the comments, though it’s not good to always be seeking for a sign to the detriment of sound judgment exercised by the renewed mind (as you say) it’s equally bad to quench the manifestation of the Spirit should He desire to speak directly into the life of a struggling believer. Maybe I’m not understanding something, though.

    I thought the last sentence was striking: “God’s will for you is that you throw yourself wholeheartedly into the desires of your renewed heart and mind.” But I also think that–though it serves well in summation of your article–taken out of context it could really be distorted, so it felt really odd to end on that note (to me) though I can see how you meant it to embolden someone to be more confident as they step out on faith in life’s decisions. Still, I can’t help but think of the great apostle Paul who desired wholeheartedly to spread the gospel in the province of Asia (Acts 16:17) with all his sanctified, redeemed, and renewed mind & heart but was prevented by the Spirit from doing so. Very interesting topic.

    1. Jonnathan,
      Thanks for stopping by to leave this important comment. I wrote this post in response to Christians I see waiting and doing nothing while waiting for a sign from God. I didn’t intend to say that God can’t lead us directly (because I believe He does), but that it isn’t what God typically does.

      As always, context is super important and I didn’t provide enough of it.
      In Christ,
      Dave

  3. I want to add a correction the scripture in my comment should be Acts 16:6 not 16:17. Sorry about that!

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