There’s a old proverb that that says:
Give a man a fish and he’ll feed himself for just a day, but give him the means to catch his own fish and he’ll be able to feed himself and his family for a lifetime.
The principle is clear and, on the surface at least, compelling. It is often used as the difference between helping someone or teaching them to fend for themselves. One gives what is needed in the mom; the other seeks to provide the means for being self-sustained.
The Will Of God For You
The book of Hebrews reminds us that in the Old Testament era God spoke many times in many ways (Hebrews 1:1). We think not just of prophets being given direct words from God, but also of angels appearing with divine guidance, of visions, dreams, and even personal messages appearing on a wall to declare what to take place (Daniel 5:5).
If you look back on such times, you can easily feel a little envious. Which of us wouldn’t want our own private angel to tell us how to best navigate life? Or a vision to let us know what God’s will is? Without such direct revelations, it can be hard to discern what God would have us do.
But when we think that way, we may actually be asking for less, rather than more.
The New Testament is not short on teaching about God’s will. It is there. It is also clear. But it is often not as specific as we would like. On one occasion Paul writes, “This is the Will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). That’s all well and good, but what job should I take? Should I move next year? Should I be pursuing marriage? And would about all the smaller decisions we face each day?
How We Find God’s Will
God hasn’t given us a magic 8 ball. That might seem frustrating. But He has given something much better:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.Roman 12:2
This is our relationship to God’s will; not that He emails a daily briefing of what were to do each day, but that He gradually renews our minds, changing the way we work, giving us the capacity to discern His will without moment-by-moment direct updates. But the trick is if we want God’s will for our life, we have to allow Him into our hearts so that He can do that changing work that needs to be done.
This is hugely dignifying. God is not telling us what to think at every moment, but how to think. He’s rarely telling us what decision to make, but teaching us how to make decisions.
What God Is After
There are a couple of examples of this in the New R. We’ve already seen what Paul said to the Thessalonians. God’s will is that we are sanctified; that by increasing measure we become more and more like He is; holy (1 Peter 1:15). A significant component of that is therefore resisting all sexual immortality. Any move toward sexual sin (mental or physical ) is a direct contradiction of God’s will As we take God’s word, we gain a better understanding of what He’s like, and what He likes.
Romans 8;29 says “Those He foreknew He also predestined to be confirmed to the image of His Son, so that he might be the firstborn of many brothers.” (or sisters )What’s God’s will for you? That you become more like Jesus, and that many others become more like Him too. Anything that leafs us toward that end is God’s will.
Many people today are moving away from churches. They don’t want to make the sacrifice to go church every week. Some people feel like they are being judged by others, Some just think they’re too busy, or need a few more hours of sleep before returning to their busy work week.
I will be the first one to admit some times I don’t feel like going to church. But then I think “This isn’t about what I want, it’s about what God wants.” I don’t get up and go to church for the people that are there. I go to seek God, it’s my soul purpose. I also think tithing comes from the heart. No one should make you feel guilty about tithing. That is between you and God. I think of it as I’m sowing into my inheritance in heaven.
Having a relationship with God isn’t about what others think, or say. It’s about doing God’s will. The Bible doesn’t say I have to sit at my desk a 7:00 AM with a open Bible. But it does say I’m to become more like Christ. And this won’t happen without spending time with Him in His word and praying.
Transformed, Not Just Informed
So, God doesn’t give us a spiritual GPS – “turn left there, then right.” He gives as an atlas- “this is your destination; get here, by all good means available.”
This may not be as easy as simply being told what to do or where to go, but surely it far more rewarding. God wants to train us not to need angels delivering instructions. He wants to give us far more; the increasing capability, by His Spirit who lives in us, to think like He does- to have our minds rebooted with His operating system. God is not merely handing us a fish when we need to eat, but He’s teaching us how to feed ourselves.
During the process of learning how to “feed ourselves,” however, God’s will often seems frustratingly vague and non-specific. The difficulty is part of the design. In those moments, we must look again at the destination we are headed, pray much, and think carefully about how to get there. God wants so much more that to prescribe our every step. He wants to help change. He does not simply want to inform us, but to transform us.