As a guy who works in a church setting, there is no question that I get asked more often than this one:
“How do I know God’s will for my life?”
It is often asked by students thinking about their future. It is asked by their parents during times of transition or as they are wrestling with a big decision. I have even wondered it numerous times myself.
We treat God’s will like a big mystery. Like it’s almost impossible to discern. Like it’s a secret He knows but doesn’t want to let us in on. We’re all looking to crack the code. How can we be sure we’re living out God’s will?
I can tell you. It’s actually not so difficult. Ready? Here it goes:
God’s will is not a mystery.
It’s really not. In fact, the Bible tells us what God’s will for our lives is.
Don’t believe me? Check it out:
1 Thessalonians 4:3, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…”
There you go. It’s God’s will that you’re sanctified. That means that you belong to Jesus and you let Jesus transform your life and make you more like Him. The Bible just comes out and tells us this. It’s not a mystery. God wants you to be set apart for Him. That’s His will.
But wait! There’s more. (If you did not do so, please go back and read that in Informercial Voice because God isn’t done yet!)
1 Thessalonians 5:13 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
There you go! It’s God’s will that you give thanks in all circumstances. So if you’re the type that worries about whether or not you are “in God’s will,” just think back and ask yourself if you’ve complained much lately. If so, you are outside God’s will. Because it’s His will that you live thankfully. Says so right there in black and white. It’s no secret!
But wait! There’s more. (I’m serious about the voice…it makes things much more exciting…kinda like free shipping!)
1 Peter 2:15 “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.”
The implication here is that it’s God’s will that you do good. The fun part is that by doing so you will silence fools. What fun. It’s God’s will that fools hush up…and you get to be a part of it!
But wait! There’s more! (You know the drill)
1 Peter 4:19 “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
This is where things get interesting. Normally when we ask what God’s will is, we’re thinking positive. A breakthrough, an improvement, a blessing. Where do I go to college? What job do I take? Who do I marry? What is God’s will?!?
Right here in the Bible, plain as day, it says that it is God’s will for some to suffer. And before you go to parsing that verse, remember that Jesus often called everyone who followed Him (not just some) to sacrifice, lay their lives down, take up their cross, etc. So even though this verse says “those who suffer” it’s not a stretch to conclude we might all at some point be called to do just that.
You see, here’s the deal. In the Kingdom of God, victory comes through suffering. Hardship helps to sanctify us. Trials test us, but we give thanks. It all works together to make us more like Jesus. As Christ followers, it’s God’s will that we suffer, because if we follow in the footsteps of Christ, we eventually find ourselves at a cross. It’s just how it works.
So next time you’re faced with a big decision and asking yourself what God’s will is, at least consider the possibility that He is calling you to be poor. Maybe He’s calling you to be persecuted. Maybe He’s calling you to die for your faith.
We all want to know what God’s will is. Instead of looking for a sign, let’s look to the Bible. Let’s suffer for Jesus, silencing fools all the while, giving thanks in all things, and being sanctified so we’re more like Him.
That’s no secret. That’s God’s will.