Our Bible verse for today: “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.” Romans 12L2 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Understand how God’s will works.”
When we are praying for guidance from God, and for His will to be revealed so we can then be obedient to it, it’s important for us to understand the different aspects of God’s will and how it works.
First, there is what is often called God’s specific will. This is expressed in ways like the Ten Commandments. If you’re wondering whether or not it’s okay to kill your annoying neighbor just read the sixth commandment, found in Exodus 20:13, and you have your answer: “Do not murder”. Some things are the proverbial “no-brainer”. God has made it clear and it applies to all people in all places at all times.
Second, there is what some people call God’s general will. This is a little less specific and usually involves boundaries within which we (His people) need to stay. Author Dallas Willard once explained this with the example of his children playing in the yard. As their father it was Dallas’ will that his children stay within the boundaries of the fenced in backyard. They were free to decide for themselves whether they wanted to swing on the swings, play in the sandbox, sit in the shade and read a book, or pretty much anything else. As long as they stayed within the boundaries of the backyard and behaved themselves, they could decide for themselves what specific activities to engage in.
This is often how God guides us. Just know the Biblical boundaries, stay within them, and go have fun. Of course, this also requires spiritual maturity. You have to know what the broad general rules are (the boundaries), and you have to have good judgment. You must be spiritually mature in order to successfully navigate life like this.
Third, there is also God’s permissive will. In this case God simply chooses to allow things to happen, although the actual event might be contrary to His own will. For instance, it is not God’s will for you to shoot heroin into your veins. And if you decide to do it anyway, God probably will not physically restrain you. By His permissive will He will allow you to do something that He would prefer you not do. But He will also allow you to suffer the consequences of your own bad choices. This is His permissive will in action and it pertains to much of what happens in this world.
When it comes to discerning God’s guidance we must first of all know our Bible very, very well. The Bible is God’s most direct and specific form of communication with us. By knowing your Bible you will be familiar with the specific commands which govern much of life. Then we must also have engaged in sufficient discipleship and spiritual formation activities in order to be spiritually mature enough to live well within the broad boundaries of God’s general will. And finally, understand that God’s permissive will allows for things to happen as a result of human free will, although many of those things will be contrary to what God wants.
Understanding how God’s will works in the affairs of our daily lives helps us to understand how he guides us.