Spiritual Decision Making: Do What God Wants You To DoPosted: May 6, 2011
Everybody has criteria for making decisions. Sometimes they are explicitly spelled out, and sometimes not. But unless a gun is held to our head, (actually, then as well) what we choose to do is based on something. I hope the thoughts in this series have given some incentive to think through what our decisions are actually based on. And in this last segment, I’d like to offer one more criteria.
It occurs to me that something gets lost in the popular notion of determining God’s will through subjective experience and self-determined criteria. In the desire to submit to God in life’s major decisions – where should I go to school, who should I date, who should I marry, where should I live, what kind of work should I be engaged in, how many kids should I have, what should my ministry involvement look like – in all the hype of trying to find God’s specific will for each of those big choices, it seems to me that God’s will in the little choices gets missed out or ignored. This despite the fact that God makes it abundantly clear what his will is.
There are a few really important – and IMHO, really clear – passages that discuss the will of God:
1 Thessalonians 4:3-4: God’s will is that we should be holy. Particularly in these verse the focus is on sexual purity, but the general idea of holiness is what underlies Paul’s specific instructions here. Apply this, for example, to dating and marriage. I don’t personally think God is whispering in anybody’s ear to tell them who to marry (although I do believe God knows exactly who you will marry, but that’s for another time). Here’s the thing: it makes no sense to be all super- (or pseudo-) spiritual about “finding the right mate” if you are not following God’s clear instructions to practice holiness in the context of your dating life. I don’t think he’s going to tell you exactly what to do, but if he were going to do it – do you really think he’d tell you what to do with the big things if you’re consistently not hearing him on the little things? And if you’re mind is right doing the little things, to some extent the big things will fall into place.
Hebrews 10:35-36: God’s will is that you persevere in doing his what he wants you to do – and in this context, that means to hold on to your faith in Christ. It means to not turn back, in spite of difficulty and hardship, even when the people and social structures that previously offered you comfort are now bent on destroying your faith. Apply this, for example, to college and career. God isn’t going to tell you exactly where to go or what to do, but if you know his will, you should think twice about deliberately putting yourself in a situation that could cause your faith to be shaken.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: God’s will is for you to live a life of joy, prayer, and thanksgiving. Sounds simple, right? And it is… as long as we don’t deliberately throw up roadblocks to prevent it. Apply this, for example, to ministry. When deciding which way to go in a ministry assignment, think carefully about whether or not you actually want to do it and can do it realistically. It makes no sense to take on a new work if it is going to make you miserable. It makes no sense to continue in a certain ministry if it is producing more bitterness than resentment, and is so time-consuming that you don’t have room to continue cultivating your personal relationship with God.
Much more could be said, but the bottom line is this. God wants you to live a life that looks more and more like Jesus: make decisions that will help you to reach that goal.
If you want to do some more reading on this subject, there’s a link here that suggests some resources you may want to check out. I’ve read Kevin DeYoung’s book, and I think he does a good job with the topic. But I haven’t read any of the others, so I can’t say one way or another – I’d love to hear from anyone that has.