What Are Some Wrong Assumptions about God’s Will?
WRONG ASSUMPTION #1: God’s will is pretty much impossible for the average Christian to figure out.
Under this assumption, God’s will is accessible only to a few, like eccentric Bible scholars or spiritual mystics who somehow have figured out how to hack into the Lord’s heavenly database. God is pictured as a tough-as-nails professor who relishes the thought of flunking all those clueless believers enrolled in “God’s Will 101.”
If we buy into this, we can start thinking, This course is impossible to pass, much less ace! I should just go ahead and drop out and resign myself to being a mediocre believer who bumbles through life.
Sorry, but that’s wrong! False! Not true! God is not trying to turn the spiritual life into a big puzzle or a frustrating search. He wants us to know his will so that we can do it.
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul wrote about the importance of letting the truth of God shape our minds and lives so that we “will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). In other words, God wants us to discern his purposes. Notice how Paul exhorts the Ephesian believers to strive to know God’s will: “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Ephesians 5:17). He prayed for the Colossian believers to know God’s will: “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives” (Colossians 1:9).
WRONG ASSUMPTION #2: If something is really fun and enjoyable, it must not be God’s will.
Sometimes we can view God as a Cosmic Party Pooper, believing that he wants his people to be hyper-serious, even somber. We can take a grim-faced view of the Christian life and conclude, Believers who are always smiling and enjoying life must be doing something wrong.
There’s no way God is pleased with that! Before long, just hearing the phrase “the will of God” makes us wince. This is because we’ve made it synonymous with unwanted or bad things. We may find ourselves thinking thoughts like, I’m not so sure I really want to seek God’s will. After all, I might find it, and it’ll surely involve all sorts of unpleasantness.
If you sometimes struggle with such thoughts, maybe this is a good time to reflect on some Bible verses…
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Psalm 84:11).
He loves to give good gifts to his children.
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11).
He wants his followers to have the richest life imaginable.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
He desires that we be full of joy.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).
It’s by following Christ wholeheartedly that we find God’s will: a life that honors God, blesses others, and brings happiness to our own souls.
WRONG ASSUMPTION #3: If something is really hard and painful, it must not be God’s will.
The flaw in this thinking is the notion that God only wants his people doing pleasant, fun, easy, comfortable things. Nothing in the Bible suggests this is true.
Take the Old Testament prophets, for example. Nobody ever had a tougher job description: to deliver blunt, unpopular truth to hard-hearted souls. God actually told the prophet Jeremiah upfront, “They will not listen to you” (Jeremiah 7:27). Sure enough, as Jeremiah and the other prophets faithfully carried out the will of God for their lives, they were dismissed, mocked, beaten, and sometimes martyred.
The Bible makes it clear that servants of God who carry out the will of God—even perfectly—are not exempted from pain. The ultimate example is Jesus sweating drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane and crying out, “Yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42), just before being led to his execution.
Sometimes the very thing that God wants his people doing is the hard and painful thing. We can’t assume that just because we’re in a rough patch, we’re outside the will of God.
WRONG ASSUMPTION #4: If I’m not sure of God’s will, I should just wait around and do nothing.
The Bible references plenty of occasions in which God directed his servants through dramatic visions, dreams, and other supernatural promptings to go and do very specific things. But in many other instances, they didn’t have a specific plan from above. What did they do then? They devised the best, wisest, most God-honoring plans they could come up with, and then got busy—always giving God veto authority over their plans. Notice the language Paul used (emphasis added):
“But as he left, he promised, ‘I will come back if it is God’s will.’ Then he set sail from Ephesus” (Acts 18:21).
Rather than a lifestyle of passive waiting, it seems a lifestyle of active humility is commended in Scripture.
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