I have to admit that knowing God’s will can be confusing at times. Sometimes, it is difficult to know what God is doing. At other times, when we believe that we know what He’s doing, we may struggle with what our participation should look like.
As I read through John 8 this morning, it illustrated the latter …
In this chapter, Jesus was interacting with the Pharisees. While He spoke truth to them, they were not able to receive it. In fact, their hearts were conspiring to shut Him up.
But, it was God’s will that Jesus not die at their hands in that moment. Regardless of their intentions, it was God’s will for Jesus to die at a later time on a cross. So, it was God’s will for Jesus to remain alive despite their murderous intentions. How did Jesus participate in God’s will?
John 8:20 “These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.”
We are led to believe that Jesus did nothing except rest in the watchful care of God. We aren’t told that He left the temple. We aren’t told (ever) that He took up a weapon to protect Himself. He simply rested in God’s care for Him and allowed God to fight this battle for Him.
But, then there is another verse that appears at the end of this same chapter. Look at how Jesus participated in God’s will – to remain alive until He would hang on a cross…
John 8:59 “So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.”
Here, Jesus did not sit quietly and let God fight for Him. While He rested in God’s watchful care, He also took action. He hid from those who would desire to kill Him. Then, He secretly left the temple so that they could not harm Him.
In participating in God’s will for His life, we are told in John 8:20 that Jesus simply rested in God’s care without (apparently) doing anything to protect Himself. Yet, in John 8:59, Jesus acted – He took evasive maneuvers while continuing to rely upon God’s watchful care.
So, let’s go back to the first paragraph above – how do we know HOW to participate in God’s will for us? How do we know when to simply let Him fight for us and when we are to take action?
At the risk of being simplistic while bringing this post to a quick resolution, we absolutely must:
– desire to do God’s will,
– live with a conscious dependence upon Him,
– spend much time in prayer,
– inform ourselves with Biblical principles,
– “listen” for the promptings of the Holy Spirit,
– seek the counsel of those who are Christ-followers endowed with wisdom, and
– utilize good decision-making principles.
But, when it all comes down to it, while we must carefully discover what we believe God desires in a matter (and what our level of participation is), we can rest in the fact that He’s got things under control. If we genuinely seek His guidance, He will provide it. And even if we make a decision unsure of whether it is God’s will, He has promised to work it out for our good (Romans 8:28) meaning that it is an opportunity to make us more like Jesus.