Obedience and Discerning God’s Will
We heard a great sermon yesterday about guidance from God. One very important point was this: If you get a clear message from God, and it really is from God (check your understanding with the Scriptures and with your faith community), then you have to obey it; don’t get side-tracked by your own importance (“God showed this to me first,” etc.).
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether something is a prompting from God vs something I wanted to do anyway, and here is where the right attitude can help. Jesus said in John 7:17, “If anyone wants to do God’s will, they will know whether my teaching is from God, or whether I’m making all this up myself” (my adaptation of J.B. Phillips’s version). I take this to mean that if I sincerely say to God, “I can take this job or that one, move to this place or that, pursue this line of work or the other, whichever you want,” then I’ve got a lot better chance of knowing what God wants than if my heart is crying out, “I reallyreallyreally want to move to this place (or whatever) and I want it to be God’s will.” So if I want to know what God wants me to do, it’s very helpful to cultivate a willingness to obey. If I want to find out first and then decide whether to do it or not, that’s not as effective.
The other thing, also mentioned by the Master himself, is this: if I do what he says in one case, he’s more interested in telling me what to do the next time. It’s actually a little more complex than that, but here’s the passage:
“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.John 14:21-23 (NIV)
In other words, we get to know him, we get to learn how he thinks and come to understand what he wants, as we continue to obey him.
In other words, the plan is: Cultivate an attitude of submission “Lord, I’m ready to obey, whatever it is.” This will make it easier to see what his will really is.
Then, when we find out what it is, to coin a phrase, just do it! Then we’ll be in a better position to know God’s will for the next decision.
And of course repeat for 20-30 years, or whatever it takes.