He Has Told You What is Good

February 8, 2010 at 10:17 pm (Articles, God's Will, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

(From Micah 6:6-8)

You may not agree with me on the issue of God’s individual will, and if not, I challenge you to sincerely consider and evaluate and I welcome your feedback.  I’d always encourage you to be like the Bereans, searching the scriptures to see if what I write is true and, if so, accept and obey it.  For any believer, God’s word must be the first authority in every part of our daily lives and this passage certainly reveals what God requires.  With that in mind, I hope you can enjoy and discuss this passage with me.  During my search for “God’s will” I also found the book “Decision Making and the Will of God” to be very encouraging and a Biblically responsible and balanced treatment of the subject.  I highly recommend it to anyone who desires to please the Lord.

I am a firm believer that God speaks today.  That He makes known His will to those who seek Him earnestly.  That He reveals to the obedient exactly what He wishes them to do.  And I am a firm believer that those who love Him, obey.

But I don’t believe that God keeps secret what He wishes us to do, or leaves us confused and struggling to seek His will from a baffling set of circumstances, impressions and interpretations.  As I looked into the pages of scripture, I discovered a distinct lack of commands or encouragement to look anywhere else for God’s will.  No descriptions of a Map-Quest set of directions revealed mysteriously in the inner workings of each individual’s heart or mind or a maze in which we could easily find ourselves lost, randomly bumping into others, never knowing when we might hit a dead end or a fork in the road that we might miss or a flower along the path that we might pass by if we don’t pray enough.  The scriptural presentation of God’s will distinctly lacked the feel of an obstacle course that we might not make it through if we don’t hold our breath just right and just keep plowing ahead—in sincerity.  Those who received direct revelations from God didn’t appear to be searching for them and I couldn’t discover that they had been commanded to do so.  Instead, I found this phrase imbedded in descriptive commands—“this is God’s will for you.”  Each of us has an individual path down which the Lord will lead us—His word is the guiding staff by which we can be assured what is right.  We are to please Him, to obey Him and to be wise.

Lauren and I became fast friends shortly after meeting—when she was nineteen and I was sixteen.  Three years later she was slogging through her senior year of college as a history major with a few basic desires:  be done with college, get married and keep a home.  The only problem was, none of these were options at that time.  As she struggled with desires that seemed out of keeping with the visible future and her parent’s goals she considered everything from teaching, to grad school, to working in a coffee shop.  That’s when we decided to look together at God’s will—as revealed in His word.  Both Lauren and I believed that everything we were required to do was spelled out in God’s word, and everything that happened in our lives was filtered through the loving hand of our Father.

For Lauren, her desires matched up with the things she was learning in scripture—the goals God has for His women.  But her parents had goals for her as well, and her peace of mind came from knowing that God’s will was for her to submit to her authorities.  To rejoice in all things.  To give thanks in all things.  To be pure.  To seek to be like Christ.  She wasn’t expected to probe into the secret workings of God’s sovereign will or read and act on circumstances—she was only responsible to do what she knew to be right within the confines of what were available options.  The object lesson from my end was priceless as I watched Lauren take every thought captive to the Lord, give her dreams and hopes to Him in prayer and simply seek to please the Lord—even as the Lord was working behind the scenes to fulfill her desires.  As we stewed over creative plans to compromise with her parents, I knew what she did not: that my brother hoped to claim her has his wife.  Before she even graduated God had provided for her to have both a husband and a home—to her parent’s delight.

Some time later I found myself in a place of confusion and anxiety, caught between what seemed to be two choices—reason appeared to favor one while surprising circumstances pressed the other.  But even as the two choices seemed to press me, I was given a glimpse of my finite view of circumstances—how partial is my view!  What I interpret as one thing could have a completely different appearance to someone else—and how could God contradict Himself?  Knowing that the only solid footing I had was in God’s word, I was driven to my knees time and again, searching for answers to how I should think, feel, speak and behave.  As I pleaded for answers and sought to please the Lord and keep my heart pure, the scriptures came alive to me, packed with powerful pictures of God’s character and goals.  I found what I was looking for: not as a blueprint of my next fifty steps in life, but as principles which could guide me through any valley as expressions of my Shepherd’s rod and staff.

The prophet Micah spells it out clearly after a long wondering about “God’s will.”  “How shall I serve Yahweh?  With what shall I come to Yahweh?  Shall I come with burnt offerings?  With my first-born?  With what?”  And the answer?  “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does Yahweh require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.”  (Micah 6:8)  We can ask all kinds of questions and we can invent all kinds of ways to serve Yahweh, but if we want to know His will, it’s simple: He’s told us what is good—what He requires.  In His word.

Do Justice

Simply stated, to do what is right.  Always.  God is proclaimed throughout scripture as just.  His character will not allow Him to do anything but what is purely right and righteous.  As redeemed daughters of Yahweh, we are to be of the same character with Him, that we can’t do anything but what is right.  That is doing God’s will.  How do we know what is right?  God’s word reveals what He abhors, what He condemns and what separates us from Him.  We must keep our hearts and hands pure of what displeases God.  If we want to know what is just and righteous, we must look to the God revealed in the Bible.

Love Kindness

Also translated “goodness” or “mercy,” God desires for us to love what is both good and benevolent.  Justice reaches only so far, but where justice leaves off, kindness takes over.  It was justice that required death for sins, it was kindness that died and wiped them away.  God is both just and merciful and He desires that His people demonstrate His kindness.  How do we know what is kind?  Again we see God’s mercy revealed through His word, with exhortations for us to follow in His ways with hearts of compassion—knowing that we, too, have been treated with compassion.  True compassion seeks to know what is best for someone else, and offers it freely.

Walk Humbly with your God

First note the personalization—your God.  God wants to be our God and us to be His people.  That we humbly own Him as Master is the purpose of scripture—the first step in doing His will.  If we desire to walk with Him, we must humble ourselves because He is opposed to the proud.  (For some practical ideas here, see “Beheading Ye Olde Beast”)  And we must walk beside Him, faithful to be with Him, to listen to Him, to converse with Him, to learn from Him and to keep in stride with Him.  Scripture gives us countless examples of men and women who “walked with God”, fellowshipping with Him intimately—and obeying His word.  These are the true worshippers which God is actively seeking.  How can we obey Him if we don’t know what He wants?  How can we expect to do God’s will if we don’t know Him intimately?  Modern Christianity seems to insinuate that we’ve got to find His will somewhere else, since His word doesn’t detail every decision we are to make.  I ask, where else could we go?  Our lives must be filtered through the truth of God’s word.  When the future seems unclear and the decisions in our pathway appear foggy, shouldn’t we go back to the basics—study God’s word to understand God’s character and commands and make our decisions fit into that grid?  How often do we suppose that we know what God’s word says about a topic—only to discover how little we know about God’s word?  And where His word is silent, still we can find what pleases Him revealed in principles that guide and guard our hearts.

Condensed, God wills for us to belong to Him, to walk beside Him and to learn to imitate Him.  How do we make this happen?  Perhaps you caught a repetition of theme.

Another friend was running crazily, her life a mass of busyness, her thoughts a tangle of confusion.  “What does God want me doing?” she cried out in frustration.  As we talked I discovered that, in her motions, she rarely found time for reading God’s Word.  “I think there’s an answer to your question,” I offered, “But you’ll have to make some time to read some passages.”  As she studied this one she shared parallels with me that blew my mind—all of them coming back to one central theme: “Abigail,” she finally said.  “I think God’s will is for me to spend time in His word!”

“When all else fails, read the instructions,” we joke.  In our quest for God’s will, don’t we tend to complicate our lives, pursuing shifting, elusive dreams under the guise of “God’s will”?  Then what happens when they fall through?  Who failed?  Me or God?  Is it still God’s will, even after I failed?  Is God faithful if I thought this was His will and, well, it didn’t happen?  Did His will change?  Did we simply have our wires crossed?  God becomes as shifting and elusive as our emotions, our dreams and our decisions, as subjective as our inner impressions and as subject to change as our fancies.  Even the apostles didn’t claim (or perhaps, blame?) “God’s will” for every decision they made.  “It seemed good…” we read.  “It seemed good…” and they searched the scriptures.

We have a huge advantage over the prophet Micah—he had the five books of Moses, and perhaps some histories of the priests and kings and the writings of the scribes and prophets.  The apostles had the Old Testament and the words of Jesus.  We have the whole scriptures, bound in leather, with gilded pages and time-tested translations.  We see more of God’s working revealed than any other moment in time—because He’s been at work longer.  I’m a firm believer that God still speaks today.  That He makes known His will to those who seek Him earnestly.  That He reveals to the obedient exactly what He wishes to see done.  And I am a firm believer that those who love Him, obey.  Jesus came not to do His own will, but the will of His Father.  Jesus was the Word—the distillation of God’s will.  We don’t have to wait, to sweat, to weep, to pray to discover God’s will for us.  We can know we are doing His will.  We find it revealed for us in timeless clarity.  Boil it down and the practical application is to hear and obey His word.

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