“What is God’s will for my life?”
This question, doubtless, comes to the mind of every Christian at some point in his or her life. We want to please God; we don’t want to mess up. We want to be obedient and we want to know where he wants us in life. We pray earnestly that he would show us his will when deciding between what university we will attend or whether we will attend one; we ask God which job he wants us to take; we long to know what career path God wants us to follow; we want to know God’s will for which church we should join. If we’re being honest, sometimes we take too far! We become crippled and unable to make even the smallest life decisions.
On the other end of the spectrum lie those who see God as essentially unconcerned and uninvolved in our life decisions. These people believe that God is distant; he has more important things to concern himself with than what college or church or job we will choose.
However, the biblical picture of God’s will is different from both of these views. God’s word, in fact, tells us exactly what God’s will is for our lives. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul spends a decent amount of time telling the Thessalonian believers what God’s will is for them. To our surprise, it seems like God is much more concerned with behaviors and attitudes than he is with jobs and fields of study. God cares about the manner in which you live wherever you are; we tend to care more about where we are and what we are doing than about how we live while we’re there.
So what is God’s will for your life? Well, according to 1 Thessalonians, it goes like this:
- Abstain from sexual immorality
- Don’t wrong your spiritual brothers and sisters (your fellow local church members)
- Respect your spiritual leaders/overseers (pastors, elders, mentors, etc.)
- Be at peace with your spiritual brothers and sisters
- Admonish the idle
- Encourage the fainthearted
- Help the weak
- Be patient with your spiritual family
- Don’t repay evil for evil
- Do good to everyone
- Rejoice always
- Pray without ceasing
- Give thanks in all circumstances
- Don’t quench the Holy Spirit
- Don’t despise prophecies; test them
- Hold fast to what is good
- Abstain from every form of evil
In addition to this passage, we can turn to places like the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel, or Romans 12 to see what God’s will is for our lives.
My guess is, if you’re anything like me, that you spend much more time worrying about what your job will be in five years than about giving thanks to God for providing now. You probably spend more time stressing over what to study in school than asking how you can encourage the fainthearted students at your school. Maybe you spend more time praying about different job opportunities than you spend praying that God would keep you from sexual immorality with your co-workers.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t pray about jobs and colleges and the like; I’m simply saying that, if you are obeying these commands from 1 Thessalonians, God is probably okay with whatever college you choose. If you can honestly say that you are striving to help the weak, to live at peace with and to do good by your local church, and to abstain from every form of evil, then you can trust that the Holy Spirit, whom God has given you, will guide you to make the right decision.
Follow Jesus. Be like Jesus. Seek to obey him in the every day; seek to glorify him in the mundane. If you are doing this, you can be confident that you are, in fact, living according to God’s will for your life.