04 Sep Unsure or Afraid of God’s will?
<Romans 12:1-2; 8:28; 1 John 4:8>
Many believers find God’s will to be abstract and are also curious of His will. People all like to know what the will of God is because they are afraid that making a wrong decision will leave regrets or mean having to go through unnecessary suffering. Yet at the same time, a good number of Christians are also afraid of God’s will because they fear that it is not aligned with their own desires. Many people think that their own desires are better and more ideal than that of God’s. They may also be afraid that, “What if God’s will is not to heal my child’s illness? What if God wants me to be single all my life? What if God allows me to go through a long period of suffering?” Hence, they dare not ask for God’s will to be fulfilled because they are afraid that God will not give them what they want but instead allow them to experience what they are not willing to go through. There are also some confused Christians who often think, could an open door definitely be God’s will? If it is not, why did God open that door and caused me to be confused? Therefore, today, we want to reflect on matters relating to God’s will.
How to examine God’s will? <Ro 12:1-2>
First, be willing to offer your body as a living sacrifice, be set apart from the world and be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
If we want to know God’s will, first we have to be born again and have a relationship with God. Our spirit must be alive then can we possibly hear the voice of God and know His will.
If we examine the will of God with carnal thoughts and pursuits, it is very hard to discover God’s will.
Also, if we examine the will of God with carnal thoughts and pursuits, it is very hard to discover God’s will. Therefore, our minds need to be renewed.
Examine the will of God using the general principles set out by God in the Bible
The Bible is the central revelation that God gives to man. Although the Bible does not list all the specific things in life (for example, which job is better, or who should I marry, etc.), God’s words definitely provide us with the answers and guiding principles that we need for a large part of our life. The broad principles of God’s Word can be applied to many specific situations and decisions in life.
If we want to grasp God’s perfect will, we must not miss out using the Word of God daily to organize our thoughts and perspective so that we can get closer and closer to God’s heart.
The Bible says that God’s will must be “good, pleasing and perfect”. So when we examine something, we must think, “Is this really good? Is it beneficial to me? Can it edify others? Can it glorify God?” God’s will is also “pleasing and perfect”. And what pleases God is what is aligned to His Word. If we want to grasp God’s perfect will, we must not miss out using the Word of God daily to organize our thoughts and perspective so that we can get closer and closer to God’s heart. In this way, as we explain and decide everything, we are more and more able to start off with God’s will than to follow the values and methods of this world. The Word of God is the most absolute foundation for us to examine His will.
What is the conviction we receive after praying?
Do we have peace after praying for something? The fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace. Therefore, if God wants us to do something, He will give us an assured heart. But we must also be careful not to conclude God’s will simply with just having “peace in our heart”. We must know that humans are all biased, especially towards the things that we have longed for in our hearts. We are therefore more inclined to think that these are right, permissible, and pleasing to God.
We must also be careful not to conclude God’s will simply with just having “peace in our heart.
Therefore, when we pray, it is easy to mistakenly think that what we want in our hearts is also what God wants to give us, and hence we “have peace” to follow our hearts. In fact, sometimes, when we know God’s will, it brings us struggles instead. Just as Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, although Jesus struggled and asked God to take the cup (the cross) from Him, but if Jesus avoided God’s will to go to the cross, He would definitely be less at peace. In or after our prayers, God will naturally reveal His will more and more clearly to us. Sometimes in prayer, God will give us the conviction and burden that we did not have before, so that we develop the willingness to do what God wants us to do, even though we initially did not want to do so.
Confirm with Spiritual People
When we examine something, we may make wrong judgements due to our blind spots or desire. Therefore, we should find blessed people with healthy spiritual life to confirm God’s guidance and perfect will. In particular, these include pastors, elders, preachers, small group leaders, or very blessed believers who are very clear of God’s words, often pray and walk with God. But even if we refer to the opinions of spiritual people, we must know that they are imperfect after all, so we must always match their advice with the words in the Bible to see if they conform to the Word of God.
If we have adhered to the above to examine God’s will but still do not understand, we must believe God’s heart and attributes.
If you have been humble to examine and willing to submit, don’t be afraid of examining wrongly, but be assured in God’s promise. God has promised, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”<Ro 8:28> Even if you have accidentally examined wrongly, everything will also work for good. God sees the heart. Therefore, we need not be too concerned with the outcome – whether we have examined correctly or chosen correctly. If God is pleased with your heart, then you don’t need to be afraid.
So, is an open door always God’s will?
Of course it is not necessarily God’s will. For example, when the Paul and Silas were in prison and the doors flew open, they did not think that since God opened the door, it is for them to escape. Instead, they remained and saved the jailer and his family <Ac 16:25-34>
An open door may be a test / temptation.
Sometimes, God intentionally gives us another choice, in order to test our hearts and make us firm about of our decisions. If we only have one choice in a certain situation, we will always feel we have no other options but to accept what is laid ahead of us. This is unstable because if we encounter some challenges, or a better opportunity arises at a later time, we will easily change our path. But if carefully test and approve an open door and finally make a decision whether or not to go through it, we will be more resolute of our decision, and we will not easily grumble or waver because of small issues. It is dangerous to have the conclusion that an open door is God’s will.
Sometimes, God does not want us to choose the easy way out.
The bible tells believers to go through the narrow gate, not the wide gate <Mt 7:13-14>. In other words, sometimes, what God wants us to choose is not the easy and straightforward path. The open door may be easier, but it does not mean we must choose what is convenient. Sometimes, when a door or a way is not opened, God is just waiting for us to take a step of faith, before He opens the door. For example, sometimes, it may seem difficult to share the gospel with certain people and the door seems closed, but when we engage the person in faith, the door of evangelism will be opened.
* Therefore, if even the door is open, do not be too excited, must still come before God and examine what His will is (Refer to the first main point)
Are you afraid of God’s will?
1) We must let love drive out fear
<1 Jn 4:18> There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. Behind our fear of God’s will is our lack of trust of His love. Especially, in our suffering, it is hard to believe God loves us, means us well, so it is difficult to accept His will. Indeed, if God is only a “sovereign” God, that will actually make people fearful, because we can only submit to His commands in all things and there is nothing we can do. However, we must also know that God is at the same time, a “loving” God, who has even suffered for us. To love people, and to save them, He is even willing to pay the price, to suffer for people. Do we need to be afraid of a such a God? The extreme suffering He has gone through should convince us how much He loves us. Everytime when we feel God doesn’t understand our needs or His will is hard to accept, may the cross of Jesus help us to renew our faith in God’s goodness and love. And the will of God is surely good for us.
2) Therefore, we must learn to submit to the will of the God who loves us
We must learn from Jesus’ submission to God. We must know that we created beings can only have peace when submit to our Lord. If God’s will is scary, then what is scarier? That is man not obeying God’s will. Think about it, we humans don’t really know what will happen tomorrow, we cannot perceive a person’s heart, we do not know manyt things and cannot control many things. If we blindly make decisions ourselves by following our own heart, is this really good?
We must know that we created beings can only have peace when submit to our Lord.
But we have an all-knowing, all-powerful God who loves us. Therefore, the most rational and blessed choice is to seek and submit to the will of God. Even if we ask for “God’s will to be done”, and we are led into a situation we are afraid of, we can also trust that God’s love is with us in the midst of the challenges. Therefore, we do not need to be afraid of God’s will.
Can we really test and approve every single will of God?
We are only mortals, in our limited understanding, we cannot fully perceive God’s heart and will.
Because there are things He hides from us, and there are things He reveals. <Deu 29:29> The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. Why did God not reveal everything to us? Because He has His sovereignty and it might not be good for us to know. Or even if we do, we cannot do anything, and may instead end up receiving insinuations, worry in vain, or be too comfortable. We might then not do what we need to do, not learn what we need to learn, and thus lose the crowns that we ought to receive.
Even if we cannot understand God’s will, but we must trust His heart.
When we cannot comprehend why suffering comes upon us or our loved ones, it is especially hard to accept God’s will. However, when you don’t understand, it doesn’t mean that God’s nature has changed. God is still loving and righteous, He does not sweep away the righteous with the wicked.
When you don’t understand, it doesn’t mean that God’s nature has changed.
Therefore, even if we do not know God’s reasons, we pray for God to give us the faith to trust His heart. How will this faith come about? It is through a close relationship with God that is built over time.