[Here’s another Disciple Up Low Down, this script is taken from episode 5. Hope you enjoy it.]
We’ve been discussing God’s will in this edition of Disciple Up but there’s one aspect we haven’t addressed yet and that’s who is it that gets to say what is and isn’t God’s will for me? Most of us probably have more than a few people vying for that authority. Whether it’s parents or children, a spouse or a boss or a Pastor or someone in your Bible Study, or maybe someone you just ran into at the supermarket – the world is full of people who love to play prophet and tell others what the Will of God is for them.
Look at this passage from Paul: 12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 (ESV)
Note that Paul was talking to a church community who had experienced some difficulty and division. So as he wraps up his letter he’s giving them some quick exhortations to help them move forward in the right direction. He tells them to respect their leaders and be at peace among themselves. Then he says they ought to urge the lazy to get to work while helping the weak and being patient with them.
Then he starts spitting out short commands like machinegun bullets. Do good, rejoice always because that’s God’s will, pray, don’t quench the Spirit and don’t despise prophecy, BUT don’t just accept them either. Instead test everything and hold on to what is good while avoiding all evil.
You might be wondering what all of that has to do with deciding what God’s will is, but I assure you it’s in there. For while I respect my leaders and listen carefully to what they say, I don’t allow them – or anyone else – to make my decision for me.
Even when someone comes to you and says “The Lord told me you should do this, or shouldn’t do that…” You should, never – EVER – just accept that as a message to you from God. And if they push you to do so then you should really treat what they said with a great deal of skepticism because that’s not what God teaches us!
No, Paul says we are to TEST EVERYTHING, and that includes advice from respected elders and any so-called messages from God to you or anyone else. Test it to make sure that it’s rational and Biblical. Think it through carefully. God’s not in a hurry and if someone is trying to hurry you then that’s pretty good evidence they aren’t speaking for God.
The truth is that the Bible teaches us that we are responsible for everything we say and do. I cannot blame others, God holds me accountable and responsible for what I do. Therefore I’m the only one who, as an adult, can decide what God’s will is for me.
I’ll listen to what other people have to say. I’ll think about it, pray about, but ultimately I’m the only one who can make that decision. And I’m the one who will have to live with it as well.
A little over eight years ago I had just such an experience. I felt like God was leading me to leave the church I was serving and go elsewhere. I had no idea where but after over 20 years there I felt like it was time to move on. I gathered about 5 of my friends in that church and talked to them about it. We prayed and I began sending out resumes, and we met several times.
They all expressed skepticism about my leaving and said they didn’t want me to go. While I respected each of them I finally decided to knock and see if the door opened. After more than a year of knocking through resumes to other churches one finally came through and I accepted the call.
Three years later I was fired after church on Sunday with no warning and in the end the new ministry I tried starting failed, I sold my house with a huge loss and ended up in Phoenix jumping between my two sisters homes unemployed.
The church I left was in a crisis and asked me to fill their pulpit, and in the end called me back here. And here I am today. I fully intend to finish my Pastoral career here at CCR as well.
So was I wrong about moving on? I’d say there’s about a 99.99% chance that the answer to that question is yes. I wish I hadn’t done it, shouldn’t have done it, but I did and have paid for it in full. Unfortunately so have a lot of other people and two churches as well.
So yeah, I should have listened. But in the end it was my call to make. I made it to the best of my ability and by God’s grace have learned a few things in the messy aftermath. I thank God so much that he led me back home again and that He’s blessed me with great people to work with as well.
But in the final analysis you are the only one who make those kind of choices for yourself. Not on else can or should, just remember not to complain too much if you make a bad choice like I did. It was your choice and if made in faith you can be assured God will bring good out of it, and all the evil men can do, in the end.
And that’s the Disciple Up Low Down on Who Gets To Decide What’s God’s Will Is For Me.
[If you enjoyed that you’ll really like the entire episode which you can listen to right here.]