The Unwritten Will of God
Tuesday - January 4th
Scripture to Read Today: Ephesians 1:1-3
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To God's holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.
As the Apostle Paul begins his letter to the first-century church at Ephesus, he says he is an apostle by the will of God. How did Paul know God's will? How do we know what God wants for our lives?
In yesterday's Take5, I mentioned Christopher's question about knowing God's will. Several months ago, he approached me and said, "Pastor, my company wants me to move to Boston and work out of our Northeast office, but I am not sure how to know God's will about this. How can I know God's will for my life and career?"
We explored the first aspect of knowing God's will yesterday. Discerning what He wants for our lives begins with knowing what the Bible says about how we live and then obeying it. Unfortunately, too many Christians live outside of God's written will as found in His Word and then are shocked when they lack peace and satisfaction in life. Before we can explore where we live, what job position we take, which house to buy, and who to marry, we must develop a disciplined pattern of trusting God and obeying what He says in His Word.
The second kind of "will" regarding God's will has to do with what is not in the Bible - the unwritten will of God. Before we go much further, let me give you a cautious warning. It is easy to get caught in the trap of thinking that God is eagerly waiting for you to step out of His unwritten will to bring a heavy hammer of judgment down on you. Some who grow up in specific church settings live with this mindset - "God will get me if I mess up." Guilt and fear become motivators for those trapped in the "God will get me if I mess up" mentality.
God wants you to experience deep satisfaction and lasting peace in your life. His main goal is not to "get you" if you step out of line. He warns us that living outside of his written will destroys relationships and lives and thus leads to misery and dissatisfaction. What He tells us in the Bible is what is best for a joyful life!
When we have carefully sought to live in alignment with God's instructions for life found in the Bible, our options are nearly limitless. Therefore, after we obey God, we look for the wisest and best choices laid out before us. First, we must consider what would best represent Christ, benefit our family and friends, and then what would be best for us. One of the biggest mistakes regarding God's unwritten will is buying into the idea that we can do whatever we want as long as we obey the Scriptures.
Plenty of biblical passages include principles of making choices and behaving in ways that demonstrate our priority and love for others. Jesus, Himself, addressed the priority we must place on others in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and His Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17). Likewise, the Apostle Paul talked about making others-oriented choices in areas not addressed directly in Scripture (1 Corinthians 8-10).
We are to make decisions regarding the unwritten will of God that demonstrate the balance of being wise as serpents and gentle as doves (Matthew 10:17). As we make decisions, we should seek wise and godly counselors who can help us incorporate Christ-centered, biblical principles into our decision-making process (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22). Finally, as we pray for God's guidance, we should rest in the Spirit of God's nudgings and promptings (John 14:26, 16:13; Romans 8:5, 14; Ephesians 5:18). The Holy Spirit within us is given to us to lead us into what God wants for our lives.
When facing decisions like moving to Boston for your job, determine God's will by understanding what God says in His written will - His Word. Then, exercise freedom in finalizing your decision by determining those factors that shape His unwritten will for your life.
As we follow both the written and unwritten wills of God for our lives, we experience deep satisfaction and lasting peace!