How do You Know God’s Will for Your Life?
The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belongs to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.Deuteronomy 29:29
We're all called to make decisions. Some of our decisions are very important and many relate to the things of everyday. Young people are faced with decisions that will have great impact on their future: whether to commit their life to the Lord, whom to marry, and what career or job to pursue. We all make decisions each day in terms of what we buy, how we spend our time and energy, what shows we watch, and what kind of music we listen to. How do we know whether our decisions are good ones? How do we know God's will for our lives?
In Scripture there are two ways of speaking about God's will, and we often confuse them. Deuteronomy 29:29 refers to both the secret and revealed will of God. His secret will is his plan for our lives. From before the foundation of the world, God has chosen his people unto salvation (Eph 1:4-5, 11; Rom 8:28-30). He has recorded their names in the Book of Life (Phil 4:3; Rev 13:8). Our days are numbered (Ps 139:16). James 4:13-15 teaches us that in planning we should always say, "The Lord willing." For God holds even the smallest things of life in his hands (Matt 10:29-30).
God knows whether we'll get married, and if so, to whom. He knows what our career path will look like. He knows where we'll live. He knows whether we'll be healthy or sick. He knows when and how we'll die. But such knowledge is too wonderful for us. We wouldn't know what to do with it. God doesn't share with us his plan for our lives and we shouldn't try to pry into this, as some try through horoscopes, fortune-tellers, and the like.
The Scriptures speak about God's will in another way. They refer to God's revealed will (Matt 7:21; 12:50; John 4:34; 7:17; Rom 12:2). God's revealed will consists of his commands and precepts. His Word not only reveals the way of salvation through God's grace in Christ, it also teaches how we as God's people are to lead holy lives out of thankfulness for his redeeming work. God reveals his will, how he wants us to live in godliness before him.
So how do I know if this girl I'm dating is the right one for me? How do I know whether to take a job directly out of high school, or if I should take an apprenticeship, or go to college or university? How can I decide whether to stick with the job I have, or to start my own business? Is it OK for me to spend $1000 on a new flat-screen TV? Is it right to take out a $300,000 mortgage to buy the house of my dreams? The Bible doesn't give me answers to these questions. How am I supposed to know God's will for my life?
Answering these specific questions requires us to study God's Word diligently and to pray for the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. Often it is good to seek advice from parents and grandparents, pastors and elders. While God's Word does not always provide answers to our specific questions, its wisdom does-give clear direction in how to live according to God's will.
For example, God's Word makes clear that when seeking a marriage partner, we are to look for someone who shares our faith and leads a godly life (2 Cor 6:14-18; 1 Pet 3:1-7; Eph 5:21-32). God's Word also has much to say about our calling to work, and to do this faithfully in the service of Christ (Gen 1:28; Ex 20:9; Eph 6:5-6; Col 3:23-24). Our decisions about what job to take or what career to follow should not be determined, on the basis of how much they pay. Rather, we need to evaluate our gifts, our interests, and what we would bring glory to God and benefit our neighbour.
God's Word teaches us much about stewardship, too (Gen 1:16-30; Matt 25:14-29). It warns against allowing money to be our god and against covetousness (Matt 6:24; Ex 20:17; 1 Tim 6:6-10; Heb 13:5). We are to fight against all selfishness as a work of the sinful flesh (Gal 5:20; Phil 2:3; James 3:1416). We are taught to seek first God's kingdom and his righteousness (Matt 6:33). These passages give much guidance about how we are to spend our time and money.
If we are willing to submit our hearts to the direction of God's Word and Spirit, then it won't be difficult to discern God's will for our lives. God's blessing rests on all who love him and obey his commands.