The Will of God
This week, we’ve looked at some passages that describe why we should obey (or do or keep) the will of God, but that does little if we are not able to discern what the will of God is. Now, the easy answer would be to say “do whatever the Bible says,” but I believe that we can dig a little deeper to discern what some of the qualities of the will of God are in order to understand what His will itself is.
Matthew 7: 21
The passage used in today’s lesson teaches us some very important things about the will of God. First, it is something that can be performed. Jesus could not say “the one who does” if there was nothing to do. Therefore, the will of God is not some abstract thing that people are only capable of determining in a relative way. It is a concrete thing that one can know and do.
Second, it is not optional. People feel that the will of God is something that changes with culture or that is somehow more or less relevant to one person or another. People who say that an individual can “believe what they want to believe” or “just do what their religion says” are wrong. We will not be judged by anything but the will of God, and what I believe about the will of God or what any religious leader says about the will of God is meaningless. What is important is what the will of God is and whether or not it has been kept.
1 Peter 3:17
From this we know that what God wills is what is right. God does not partake in evil or cause evil (Jas 1.13). Although, even in this passage, we can see that evil is allowed in the world for God’s purpose. If evil exists, then we are able to choose good over evil. If there were no evil, then we would have no choice. Thus, God’s will is both whatever is good and whatever is not evil, so if we must choose good and suffer through evil then we must because that which is good is God’s will for us to perform.
2 Peter 3:9
From this we see that ultimately, God’s will is for everyone to come to heaven. From this, we know that God’s will is not unattainable. It is something to be performed and we are capable of performing it. And it includes his redemption. God is willing to do anything for us to come to Him; all that remains is for us to do whatever He wills for us and for us to do.
How to Act towards Others
Our society is one that has become immersed in the self. People choose to think of themselves instead of others. Individuals have come to think that they only way that a person can succeed is by taking advantage and using anyone that "gets in the way." Some events occur which break this mold, but we will not be judged based on the traumatic events that transpire to ourselves and others; our judgment will focus on the entirety of our lives. We will not be judged based solely on the best or worst times of our lives but the consistency with which we make decisions and treat others each day of our lives. The way that we live everyday should take a place of high priority in our lives.
When asked "What is the greatest command?" in Mt 22.36, Jesus said "Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Mt 22.37). The second, "Love your neighbor as yourself." He went on to say "On these hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Mt 22.38). Paul, by the inspiration of the Spirit, said "For this, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Rm 13.9). Jesus and the biblical authors thought that the way we treat others was central to our entire lives.
With this in mind, there are three rules which we can follow that demonstrate how to act towards others.
Rule 1: How God Would Have Us Act
It is of no surprise that this is the first rule. God has given many commandments about how to act towards others. These include how husbands should treat their wives (Eph 5.25), how Christians should treat each other (Jas 5.16), how children should treat their parents (Eph 6.1), and how to act in many different specific situations involving others (Matt 5.23-24, 1 Cor 5). The best way to obey this rule is to have a good foundation of the Bible. In all things, what God has said takes priority over everything else, and by using the Bible, we can know how to conduct ourselves in any number of situations; we need only to ask what God would have us to do. It is up to us whether we will do it or not.
Rule 2: What is Best for the Other Person
If in any given situation it is not readily clear what God would have us do, then we should do what is best for the other person. It is clear from Scripture that we are to place others equal to and even above ourselves. The Lord said that this was the second greatest command (Mk 12.31). In Mt 7.12 Jesus gives us the "Golden Rule" for how to treat others: doing for them according to what we think is best. In Phil 2.3 and Rm 12.10, Paul teaches that we should hold others in higher regard than ourselves. In our self-centered culture, it is the exception rather than the rule to think of others first and ourselves second, but if everyone thought about everyone else first, then no one would need to think of himself because everyone else would already be thinking of him, and he would be thinking of everyone else.
Rule 3: Do Our Very Best
If we ever encounter a situation in which it is not immediately clear what God’s Word has said about how we should treat someone else or what is best for the other person, then we must do our best. It doesn't become an excuse to do something that we think God might not approve of just because it wasn't specifically mentioned in Scripture. We don't get to make "loopholes." We have to always make the best decision that we can given the situation, our knowledge of Scripture, and what we understand God's will to be. In everything that we do, we should constantly work to do our best striving to be pleasing to God (Col 3.17). What God wants and what everyone else, including ourselves, should want is the best version of ourselves. Even if we do our best though, we will probably fail from time-to-time, but we have the promise of a faithful God. “but if we walk in the Light … we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1.7
As you go about your lives, please remember these thoughts and use them in a meaningful way to treat others better and be pleasing to God.