It’s a question I’m asked as a pastor more than any other. I’ve asked it too. Most of the time, I think this question comes from a good motive. We want to know that our choice pleases God. We want our lives to count and for our days to have significance.
But it can also come from a passive stance: maybe the truth is I want someone else to make the decision for me so I can be off the hook of responsibility? If it doesn’t turn out like I thought, I don’t have to blame myself. I can chalk one up to “God’s choice for me includes suffering.” Or, I simply don’t want to put the time into seeking wise counsel from people who have walked where I’ve walked, read the stories of those who had similar decisions before them or set aside the time to seek the Lord and examine my motives in the light of the Scripture and the Holy Spirit.
Without equivocation, I can name one thing for certain that is God’s will. It’s found in 1 Thessalonians 4:3:
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification…”
Paul the apostle, is emphatic. Know this: God’s will is for you to be “made holy.” The mission of the Holy Spirit in your life is that your body, your mind, and your spirit are set apart for His purposes. He wants you to glorify God through your vocation, marriage, money and ministry. This is God’s will for you.
I’ve found it helpful to change my prayer from, “God what do you want me to do?” to “God which of these paths will make me more like Your Son?” Or, instead of asking, “God, which path should I take?” ask, “God, which path leads toward glorifying You? Toward holiness?”
“Many Christians feel more comfortable with the idea that apart from Christ they can do nothing, than they do with the other side of that coin: that they can do all things through Him who strengthens them. ‘I can do nothing’ lets me off the hook; ‘I can do all things’ makes me wonder why I’m not doing anything. It’s easier to piddle around wondering whether it’s God’s will that you rent this apartment or that one, than it is to face up to God’s ultimate will for you: that you become conformed to the image of His Son.” (John Boykin in The Gospel of Coincidence, pg 168.)
Ouch. I’ve been there. I’ve piddled around with those kinds of questions. Pulling back to ask the larger question is harder and more probing. But here’s what I know: it’s one thing that’s certain in every decision. For the Christ-follower, I can know that God’s desire is that I become a reflection of Jesus.
Imagine how this could shape your decisions regarding:
- Which person should I date?
- Which job should I take?
- Where should we go to church?
- Should I lead a life group
Here’s where you can find some clarity: this is God’s will, your sanctification.