Someone recently asked me if I think it is appropriate for a Christian to wish someone good luck. I don’t know if that is a bad thing, necessarily, but Christians don’t believe in luck. We don’t believe in mere chance. Instead, we believe in providence. We believe in God’s will. We don’t believe that we are mere victims of chance, just groping our way through life. We believe that God has a purpose for us. And the Bible clearly teaches that Christians are to live by faith.
Having said that, I wish I could say that I always know the will of God in every set of circumstances. The will of God is not always easy to discern. For me personally, knowing the will of God is a journey of faith in which I read the Bible, pray for God’s guidance and then take what I hope are the appropriate steps in the right direction.
The Bible tells us the just shall live by faith (see Romans 1:17); it doesn’t say they will live by feelings. The good news is that God does not play hide-and-seek. Psalm 25:14 says, “The Lord confides in those who fear him” (NIV). God wants to lead us even more than we want to be led. And he wants to speak to us even more than we want to be spoken to.
But it may be that one of the reasons we don’t know the will of God in a particular area of our lives is because we have not applied what is clearly the will of God for all areas of it. Obedience to revealed truth guarantees guidance in matters unrevealed. So before we stress about what God’s plan is for you and for me, let’s first take a look at what his plan is for everyone.
God’s will is that we all believe in him. The Bible says that God “wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4 NLT), and that he “is patient with [us], not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 NIV). So before we are ever going to know the will of God, we have to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and our Lord. That is God’s will.
The principles found within the pages of the Bible, though true in a general sense, are really for those who are walking in submission to God. It is not merely a book filled with principles of truth, success and prosperity. It is not a book of magic formulas that work for everyone. The Bible is a book authored by God to tell us how to know him and walk with him.
Having established that, how can we know the will of God for our own lives? The Bible gives us this conditional promise for knowing God’s will: “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1–2 NIV). The promise is that you will know the good, pleasing and perfect will of God. The condition is that you must present yourself to God. Offerings are not taken; they are given. It is the same with our lives. We offer them to God.
To be a Christian means to give as much of ourselves as we can to as much of Jesus Christ as we know. Willingly offer yourself to God. Commit yourself to him. Then “you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT).
Now, God’s definition of good may be different than our definition of good, just as my definition of good is different than my granddaughter’s definition of good. Her definition of good is eating quesadillas, playing with toys and watching Care Bear cartoons. But my definition of good for her includes a nap, proper nutrition and other things that I know will help her.
So often our definition of good is different than God’s definition of it. We define good as that which is fun, pleasurable, happy, enjoyable, pain-free and in the moment. God’s definition of good is that which is productive, character-building and eternally focused. We tend to focus on the small picture; God looks at the big one. We are thinking more of the here and now; God is thinking more of the by-and-by. We think more of the temporal; God thinks more of the eternal. But know this: His plan is good.
Not only is his plan good, but he never will lead us in a direction that is contrary to his written word. Scripture will confirm whether we are doing the right thing. That is why we need to be familiar with the Bible. It is where God reveals his primary truth. It is the source of truth, and the way we will know right and wrong is from studying it. It has been said that a Bible that is falling apart is usually a good indication of a life that isn’t.
God also speaks to us through circumstances. First God directs us through his written word, and as we operate on biblical principles, God opens doors and confirms his leading through circumstances.
Then there is the peace of God sealing the deal, if you will. Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts” (NLT). There might be a decision you are making that seems to be biblically sound, and it seems as though doors are opening. But still you have a sense that it just isn’t right. I have learned to listen to that, because God will lead you with his peace. When you are in the will of God, there will be joy and peace as a result.
God wants to reveal his will to us. He has a plan for us. We just need to be willing to listen to what he has to say.