Poor Conceptions of God's Will


It is easy to make mistakes when trying to live in God's will. Ken Boa looks at some of the common mistakes and assumptions people make when striving to live according to God's plan.

1.  I must pray about each decision I make.

Some decisions follow logically from others, and do not need to be prayed about.  If you decide to go to college, you do not need to ask God whether you should attend classes and do the required work.  Many other decisions, like what clothes to wear and how to behave in different social situations, are matters of common sense. 

2.  God's will is often contrary to human reason.

While it is true that God's thoughts are much higher than our own, this does not mean that His will for our lives is erratic and peculiar. He gave us a rational capacity and wants us to use our minds in the decisions we make. It is our responsibility to submit our thinking to the truths of Scripture and the illumination of the Spirit, so that we will have "the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16). God may direct a believer to do something that does not seem to make the best sense, but this is exceptional, not normative.

3.  To submit to God's will, I must give up my happiness.

God is not a majestic monster who wants to make us miserable. His will for us is in fact the only pathway to freedom, fulfillment, and joy (Psalm 37:4; John 15:11). He loves us and offers an abundant life to those who walk in His ways (John 10:10).

4.  If I follow God's will, my problems are over.

A quick reading of the book of Acts makes it clear that an abundant life does not mean a trouble-free life. Obedience to God prevents and corrects many problems, but does not exempt a believer from trials and temptations. Nor is the abundant life the American dream; an obedient Christian may or may not be successful in the eyes of men. God's standard of success is different from that of the world, and we cannot serve both.

5.  If I stray too far from God's will, He won't be able to use me again.

God does not exempt us from the consequences and scars of sin, but this does not mean that He puts us on the shelf.  When we acknowledge our sins He forgives and cleanses us (Psalm 51:1-13; 1 John 1:9) so that we can be used again in His service.  Some of the heroes of Hebrews 11 were also great sinners. 

6.  If I commit my life to God, He will want me to go to seminary.

God's best for a person is not always career ministry.  For some it is, but most Christians are called to glorify Him in the context of “secular” employment.  It would be just as wrong for them to go into professional ministry as it would be for those who are called into this form of ministry to leave it.  There is no such thing as a part-time Christian, and we can honor Him in whatever context we are placed (1 Corinthians 10:31). 

7.  I must have special confirmation before making important decisions. 

If we observe the prerequisites and principles of guidance discussed in the earlier Reflections in this series, we can be confident that God will not reward our openness and obedience by clouding the choices.  We may not always have the subjective confirmation of peace about decisions that cannot be postponed, but this need not freeze us in our tracks.  As we walk in fellowship with God, we can make the necessary decisions freeze us in our tracks.  As we walk in fellowship with God, we can make the necessary decisions without anxiety.

8.  God wants me to respond to every need.

God can lead us by bringing us into direct contact with certain needs, but not every cry for help is a call from God. We can assume more burdens than we can carry and spread ourselves so thin that we become ineffective. We must be careful not to let the good become the enemy of the best. It is better to do a few things well than to multiply mediocrity.

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