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Finding God’s Will

The common misconception that every detail of our lives is intricately predetermined by a divine plan has defined the understanding of many Christians for centuries. This belief instills a crippling anxiety, particularly in young individuals navigating pivotal life decisions. This illogical mindset can literally drive faith from the hearts of intelligent young believers. God's greatest gift to humanity is the freedom of choice, and he desires his children to actively engage in life's opportunities and make decisions aligned with broader moral principles found in Scripture.

Sometimes Christians give the idea that God has planned out for us who we are to marry, what career we're to have, what house we're to live in, the neighborhood we should be in. All of it, every aspect of our lives, is supposedly specified by God's will and we have to find what that will is in order to have the right person, the right situation, the right career, the right education, the right everything. 

Christian teaching often feeds this to our kids from the youngest of ages. So, it’s no wonder that when they get to college, they have an existential crisis in their minds, not being able to figure out, “Should I study this?” “Should I not?” “Am I doing the right thing?” They’re constantly in anxiety that they might not be following God's will and doing the right thing, that they're somehow disobeying him or that it is impossible to know what his will is for their lives. As a result, they are riddled with guilt, because they have been taught they must follow his will for their lives.

Poor young people! If they were to choose to pursue a career that they actually want to do, but they had no billboard flashing,  “This is what you should do!” If they didn’t have an angelic visit in the night like Joseph, when he was told specifically to marry Mary, Is that okay? It’s no wonder at all why that anxiety is there.

Anxiety is unnecessary! God is committed to the freedom of your choice, but there are parameters of that choice. In the Garden of Eden, the tree of knowledge of good and evil illustrates this beautifully.

In Genesis Chapter two, verse fourteen, it tells us that the Lord God placed man in the garden to tend and watch over it. But God warned him, that he was allowed to freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden, except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If they would eat its fruit, they were sure to die. 

It’s interesting that Genesis two says God put Adam in the garden to work - prior to sin. His intention is for us to labor, to work. It is good for the mind. It is good for the body. It is good for our relationships. Laziness is never supported in Scripture. In fact, it's condemned repeatedly.

The book of Proverbs is explicit in its condemnation of laziness, and this concept is also enshrined in the Sabbath commandment. We usually emphasize one seventh of that commandment… rest. Though the commandment starts with rest, six days are for laboring, for doing all your work, and then rest.

In Exodus, when God enshrined that fourth commandment in the center of the 10 commandments, remember that this ideas stems straight from the Garden of Eden. Six out of seven parts of that the commandment are command to work. You cannot appreciate rest unless it is preceded by work, effort and labor. In Genesis’ creation story, God worked (created) for the first six days and then rested on the seventh day so he could enjoy what he created.

He put Adam and Eve in the garden and told them to work. His plan for us was to work, as well. And by the way, the more active you are in working and laboring, the easier it is to make better moral choices as well, quite often because it keeps you less distracted by all the other stuff. It fills your time with quality activity.

You want to make good choices? Fill your time. You want to build a good character? Fill your time with those quality activities that will build and grow and benefit and expand your life. That's God's plan. That’s God’s will!

In Genesis two, we’re told that God's greatest gift was the gift of choice. He gave us the choice of how to do life. In the garden, they got to choose what fruit they ate and which tree they plucked it from. They got to choose how often they ate it.

They got to choose where they ate it. They got to choose what combination they ate it in, from one tree to the next. It was all their choice. It was their opportunity. God gave the garden, the whole world, as a playground for them to explore and experiment with and they were allowed to do that. They were encouraged to do that. They were commanded to do that. Then God stepped back at the end of that creation, when he had established things in just that way, and he said that it was very good.

Genesis two expands the story from the end of chapter one, the sixth day of creation. In Genesis one, it discusses that God created Adam in God's image. After he looked at every other thing he created, he said it was good, but after he created Adam and Eve, and he showed them the wide and interesting world in front of them and told them to go and do and live, he said, “Look! It is very good.” A huge part of God's plan and purpose for humanity was choice and the ability to experiment in that choice, to enjoy choice and to reap the results of those choices. That’s when he said, “It is very good.”

Do you want to know about God’s will? This story tells us something about God and his purpose and intention for our lives. I don't worry about God's will. A lot of people do, but there is no need to fret about God's will. God's will is defined in a few categories in Scripture. It’s actually clearly, explicitly stated. 

(A Few) Categories for Determining God’s Will

1. Live a moral, ethical life. 

Perhaps this is simpler than we believed. It’s based on the 10 commandments and the expansions of those commandments all throughout Scripture. These principles represent a few things to avoid, and the rest of the world is ours to enjoy.

2. Respect other people's rights and choices. 

If we do this, by the way, we are actually living in harmony with the 10 commandments, because they teach about respecting life, respecting others, respecting property.

3. Serve humanity. 

Live as if you were put here for others. Invest in healthy relationships and uplifting others. 

4. Serve God and his kingdom.

Live evangelistically. Choose awareness and seek to live for something bigger than ourselves. How can you actively seek to prepare people for something more? Work to expand the borders of Christ’s kingdom by leading others to saving faith in him.

Those categories sum up God's will in Scripture. Doesn’t that simplify things? You can't find the Scripture where God is detailing who you have to marry, what you have to do for a career, what hobbies you need to become proficient in. It’s not there. There are very few specific examples of God dictating things like this. Where there are examples, they’re not given for us to follow exactly. Is God asking that you, like Hosea, marry a prostitute? 

God’s will in regards to choice of a marriage partner is one of the most upsetting topics for many young (and old) people. It makes for a great example of seeking God’s will. First Corinthians seven has surprising advice about marriage. The very end of the chapter presents something very fascinating. Notice the language in verse 39. “A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if he loves the Lord.”

In the garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve that they were free to eat of any tree in the garden. That included in the center of the garden, the tree of life. But there was a parameter on that, as there is always a parameter. The parameter there was to not touch the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The parameter in Corinthians is that you may freely choose who you want to marry, but … only if he or she loves the Lord. There are always parameters, but God clearly inspires this language of choice. It is quite similar to instructions he gave way back in Genesis chapter two: that he wants us to see, to choose, to enjoy, to take freely.

Galatians chapter six, verse one encourages Christians to “stand fast” in the Liberty or the freedom which Christ has given us. I want to suggest to you that we need a greater experience in the freedom that Christ has given.

I meet so many people who are struggling, who do not feel free in Christ and feel so confined and restricted. This is particularly true of young people. They feel like everything is a bunch of “do’s” and “don’ts.” They feel that everything about Christianity is about the rules. It’s time to understand that God’s desire for us is very different than that. Sometimes parents or the church pile up a lot of rules, but that is not how God focuses his attention with with his people. 

Are there rules? Absolutely. There are rules. There are parameters, but, almost always, we draw those lines in closer than they were ever created to be.

All throughout Scripture. God is committed to your freedom of choice. In Isaiah chapter one, verse 18, it says, “Come, let us reason together… though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” What a powerful text! People love the last half of that verse, about our sins being cleansed. That’s a wonderful thought, but we often forget the first half. God commands that we come and reason together. Let's have a real conversation and let's engage one another. 

God's will can be understood within a framework rooted in morality, respect for others, service to humanity, and devotion to God's kingdom. God's will is not an intricate roadmap dictating personal details, but a broader guidance that allows for individual autonomy. The parameters set by God are liberating rather than confining, fostering a greater experience of freedom in Christ. He encourages a shift away from rigid rules and invites a reasoned dialogue with himself, emphasizing the importance of choice, experimentation, and the pursuit of a purposeful and fulfilling life within the bounds of moral and ethical principles.

The world is before you. The choice of how you spend your time is yours and no one else’s. Choose well. Live Well.

Choose Your Happy.


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