Summary: Our personal preferences do not hold the same weight as Biblical truths.
Christian people are often keen to know the leading of God in their lives. But how are we to know what God’s will is? We may find the answer to this important question when we look at Abraham’s servant in Genesis 24.
First, though, what do we know about God’s will? What has He revealed to us in the Scriptures?
God has given certain commandments for us to obey. Whatever plan God has for our lives, it will be in keeping with those things which he has already clearly revealed to us. What is more, as we obey His commands, and walk with Him in love, He will gradually unfold to us what He wants us to do in the course of any day, and throughout our lives.
We, like Abraham’s servant, must live one day at a time, in wholehearted obedience to what we know of the will of God. Then - as we obey - God will lead us in a right path, caring for the details of our lives.
I. ABRAHAM’S SERVANT
We see in Genesis 24:2 that Abraham’s servant was not a young man. Yet he was obedient to his master.
Abraham instructed that the servant was to find a wife for Isaac from his own people. Likewise, Christians are instructed not to be mismatched with non-Christians (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Although he had his own ideas about the difficulty of the task confronting him (Genesis 24:5), the servant did not disobey. The Apostle Peter instructs, “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to the kind and gentle but also to the overbearing” (1Peter 2:18).
God does instruct us how to conduct ourselves in our various human relationships. As we obey those who have authority over us: parents, teachers, employers and the like, we are also obeying God. And as we obey God, He entrusts us with a little bit more in His service. This is what Jesus means when He says, “Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required” (Luke 12:48).
2. Praying for guidance (Genesis 24:12-14)
If we really want to know what areas of service the Lord may be opening up to us in our lives, we not only need to be living a life of obedience in our present circumstances, but we must also be seeking God’s will by prayer. This is our talking with God, asking Him to unfold the details of our lives. It is also a listening to God.
The servant asked God for something lawful that enabled him to carry out his duty to his master. It is significant, too, that he asked out of God’s love for his master Abraham (Genesis 24:12). When we pray, we pray in the Name of Jesus Christ.
Abraham’s servant was walking in faith, and reached a level of holy boldness in his request for a visible token of God‘s guidance (Genesis 24:14). But it is sufficient for most of us, most of the time, to simply ask God what His will is, and to say with His Son, “Thy will be done!”
3. God answers prayer (Genesis 24:15)
“Before he had done speaking…” (Genesis 24:15). Before the words of our prayer leave our lips, God is already moving heaven and earth to fulfil His purposes in us, and through us. The servant was in the right place at the right time, because God had led him there, heard his prayer, and brought Rebecca there in answer to that prayer.
Why does it sometimes appear that God hasn’t answered our prayers?
a. Are we asking for the right thing? James in his letter says, “You ask and you do not receive, because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3).
b. God does answer our prayers, but perhaps we don’t like what we hear.
c. Sometimes His seeming silence is an emphatic “No” to our request; sometimes a “Not yet”, an encouragement to persevere, testing our faith.
We must learn to exercise the Psalmist’s patience in Psalm 40:
“I waited for the LORD my God
And patiently did bear;
At length to me He did incline
My voice and cry to hear.”
4. Learning in silence (Genesis 24:21)
“There is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak,” said King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 3:7). Well, this was a time to remain silent. The servant waited, to see whether indeed this was God’s answer to his prayer.
Sometimes we are on the verge of blessing, but in our enthusiasm lose our modesty. We cry out that God is doing great things for us before we have weighed up just what it is that God is teaching us. The time to speak will come soon enough, as the servant demonstrates (Genesis 24:34-49).