Summary: God’s will is not some mysterious thing we SEEK regarding our future (like God’s will for a spouse or a career); rather, as this message reveals, it involves things we DO.
The Will of God
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TEXT: Ephesians 5:17 – “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
SUGGESTED SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 26:36-46
Illus. – A few years ago a lady who I’ll call Donna came to me for counsel. She was married to a guy I’ll call Steven, a great guy, but she was going through those first-year marriage adjustments all married couples go through. Tears coursing her cheeks, she said, “I prayed earnestly for God’s will for the right husband. I met Steve and I thought he was God’s will for me. But after we married, I realized I’d made a big mistake. I missed God’s will for my life.”
I asked some basic questions: Was he a genuine believer?—Yes. Did he seek to follow Christ?—Yes. Was he kind and caring.—For the most part, yes? Was he excited about your baby due is 6 months?—Yes. Is your communication good?—Eh, not so great, but not terrible.
I said, “Well, why do you think he isn’t God’s will for you?”
“Well,” she said, “Many things. For instance, he loves watching football on Saturday and I HATE it”…and she gave me about 5 other examples of what sounded to me like normal first year husband-wife adjustments every marriage faces.
I shared with her some things I’m going to share with you today, and also that if she was married to this man, he was now God’s will for Him to form kindness and longsuffering and selflessness and faithfulness and goodness into her life.
Donna’s story illustrates a fundamental misunderstanding many people have about God’s will. Usually when people talk about the will of God, they’re referring to decision-making in life. They’re referring to God’s will concerning choosing the right career, or choosing God’s will for a spouse; or things like: Is it God’s will for me to remain in the military? Is it God’s will for me to purchase a second car? Is it God’s will for us to buy a certain house?
But as you read through the Bible, God’s will is never tied to decision-making. It comes as a surprise to a lot of us, but nowhere I know of does the Bible speak of anyone seeking God’s will for a career, a calling, a marriage partner, or a major life-decision.
Rather, what we see is that the Bible teaches us to store up a reservoir of knowledge and wisdom from God’s Word so that we know how to make wise decision; to seek wise and godly counsel; to live in close fellowship with God so we can discern the God’s desires; and to obey His commands, and if we do those things, the decisions we make will be within the parameters of “God’s will.”
Illus. – For instance, let’s take choosing a spouse:
The Bible gives no evidence that there a specific “Mr. Right” or “Mrs. Right”—that is, the ONE AND ONLY person in the whole world God intends for you to marry.
But there are some basic principles that should guide a person looking for a spouse:
God’s Word commands us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, so obviously, a potential spouse should be a believer.
The Bible teaches the importance of listening to our parents’ counsel, so generally you should seek your parents’ approval before marrying.
The Bible teaches that believers should live godly lives, so a potential spouse claiming to be saved who is not godly is obviously not what God wants for you.
Beyond those commonsense biblical guidelines, the Bible tells us no more about looking for a spouse.
So I believe that if a young person is careful and wise, and follows basic Bible guidelines, there are literally thousands of people in the world who would perfectly fit into “God’s will” as a marriage partner.
Should we seek God’s guidance concerning decision-making? Yes; but we don’t discern God’s will by some spooky experience, or by following our feelings, or by wresting some verse out of context to make it say what we want it to. Rather, we should first do the will of God in our lives in the areas He has clearly commanded, and then make decisions according to a pure heart.
Thus Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
So if you’re doing God’s will in your life where He has clearly commanded, and you’re delighting in the Lord—so that what GOD wants in your life is what YOU want, and you’re seeking godly counsel, then do whatever you wish, because you’ll choose God’s will instinctively.
That’s why the Bible says in Psalm 37:23 – “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.”