(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Augusta Press.)
I have often had people to ask me how to know if something is God’s will or not. It is as if God’s will is something which is impossible to know. I also think that some people feel that if God’s will is so mysterious, that they are somehow free to do whatever is before them simply because this “unknowable will of God” poses no barrier. In other words, “ignorance is bliss.”
Scripture gives us plenty of ways in which we can know if something is God’s will or not. It is not hard to discern whether what we are entertaining is going to honor God’s will or bring dishonor to Him. It is also very easy for a person to rationalize their actions to the point that they feel God is okay with their direction. No amount of rationalization can make something God’s will unless it, in actuality, is His will.
A few biblical insights will help us to know if we are pleasing Him with our actions and decisions or not. It would be good for us to consider a few things from the scripture concerning this issue. First, we should ask: “Does it violate scripture?” If something violates scripture principles, then we should not begin to think of reasons we should proceed with our desire. We should quickly change our direction and flee from it, because nothing we do that violates scripture will ever please God no matter how much sense it might make to us. In Hebrews 4:12, and Psalm 199:5-6, 9, and v. 133 will help us make our decision within His will.
Second, we should ask: “Does it consider the effect on others?” Every Christian should make sure that what he does in his own life should not make a negative effect on the lives of others and thereby force them to pay the price for what we want to do. A good, obedient Christian is concerned about how they live and if their effect on others is helpful to them and certainly not destructive in their lives. Again, scripture gives us some valuable insights in Romans 14:13,21 as well as in 1 Corinthians 8:9, 11-12. If one will do a little study on these passages they will find The Bible gives some wonderful instructions on the direction of His Will such that others will not be negatively affected.
A third thing we should ask when considering whether an action or direction is God’s will or not, a person should ask the question: “Is my desire self-centered?” This is a very crucial element of finding and acting on God’s will for something, because if it is self-centered it cannot be God-centered and we should get away from whatever it is that we are wanting to do. If we are concerned about doing God’s will then the last thing that we should be seeking is to satisfy ourselves. I am not saying that God’s will should not satisfy us, because we are happiest when we are living in harmony with Him. What I am warning against is that, in our human nature, we don’t force ourselves to believe that God is happy with an action simply because we are and we also think that it is such a good idea that certainly God would agree with us. People sometimes think that simply because something makes such good sense that God would certainly recognize that and put His seal of approval on it.
A fourth consideration should be that nothing we should ever consider should ever hurt the work of the church. It is the spiritual body of Christ, and as such, should be protected and honored. In Matthew 16:13-19 we find some valuable information. It is made clear that it is Christ who is going to build the church, and if He does, then the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. He is the only one who has been given the right to build the church because it is his body on earth. Scripture bears this out and leaves no question about it. He is the only one who died for the church and He is the only one who can build it the way He wants it. It is not up to us to turn the church into an enterprise or organization. It is not an organization, but a spiritual organism, that Jesus Christ is building and He is the head of it. If something we desire to do violates or hurts the work of the church, it cannot be God’s will.
The fifth and final thing I will mention is this: If our desire or action brings dishonor to Christ, it is not God’s will. In Philippians 2:5-11 we can read how God honors Christ. The passage tells us that God “highly exalted Him and has given Him a name above every other name.” The one who died for us should never, under any circumstance, be dishonored by our actions. When trying to decide if something you want to do is God’s will or not, one should ask this simple question: “Does it dishonor Christ?” If there is even one little question about this, then a person should not do what they are considering. There is never any reason to bring dishonor to Jesus, who died for us and cleanses us from our sins.
So, when a person is trying to make a decision on a course of action, the things I have mentioned will help them go in the right direction and find out if something is God’s will or not. And, there are many other things in God’s word that will also help us find His will. God has, in His word, given us the instructions we need as to how to find out if something is God’s will or not.
Reverend William (Bill) Harrell has been in ministry 49 years. He served as the pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, GA for over 31 of those years. He can be reached at email@example.com. You can also check out his blog at www.williamfharrell.com