What is the will of God?
As Christians, many of us know and believe that God has a plan for our lives and we must rely on Him for direction. But one of the most common questions people have is “What is God’s will?”
Thankfully, Bible has plenty to say about God’s will! For example, 1 John 2:17 says, “Those who do the will of God will abide forever,” and Jesus told His followers, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). With those words from Jesus Himself, it’s no surprise that Christians want to know what God’s will is for their lives!
Here are some times in my life that I have asked this very question:
- “Who will I marry? Is it God’s will for me to marry him?”
- “Where should I go to college? What’s God’s will? Where does He want me to be!?”
- “Does God want me to be in this major?”
- “What am I supposed to do with my life? What kind of job did God make me for? WHAT IS HIS WILL!?”
If these questions sound familiar to you, obviously you’re looking for His thoughts on the matter. Seeking for God’s answers will always lead you in the right direction, because He promised to direct us into His will. Take Psalm 32:8 for example (one of my favorites!) He says to YOU, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
Before we go further, let me define the different meanings of “God’s will.”
There is also God’s general will for all of His people. For example, God gives many specific commandments in the Bible–that we must obey Him, believe in Jesus, serve others, love one another, be unified and seek Him. This kind of “God’s will” is for everyone. No one is exempt from the many commands in the Bible. However, this is not what people are usually wondering about when they question God’s will.
Sometimes when people refer to “God’s will,” they are wondering if God’s plan matches their own. But we read in James 4:13-15, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”– yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”
God’s will is His desire. This passage explains that any plan we have for our lives may or may not happen. We are “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” Submit yourself to the Lord and He will act out His plan.
God’s will may also be mentioned when a person is questioning God’s judgment about something. This often happens when a person goes through difficult times or someone passes away. But 1 Peter 3:17, we read: “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” God’s will may involve suffering because suffering produces endurance and faith and a multitude of other wonderful things! (See Romans 5:3-4.)
But here’s the “God’s will” that we wonder about when we ask questions like what I listed above.
So how do you find God’s will for your life? Easy!
First, let me be clear. There are Christians that do not believe God has a calling for each of our lives. But there are people in the Bible whose lives tell us otherwise. For example, Jeremiah was called before he was born to be a prophet to the nations!
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). God knew Jeremiah before he was even formed. God’s calling (aka “God’s will”) for Jeremiah’s life was for him to become a prophet.
Look at Paul (formerly known as Saul, the persecutor of the church.) He was called to be an apostle and evangelist. Romans 1:1 says, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle.” He knew his calling.
So, in order to discover God’s will for your life, your first job is to follow the general will and obey what He has written in the Bible. Here are some examples:
- Believe in Jesus
- Love God, love others.
- Seek peace with others
- Care for the poor
- Seek God’s presence continually
- Witness to others’ of God’s love
- Repent and ask forgiveness when you sin against God and others
- Forgive others when they sin against you
“Yeah, yeah, I know all that!”
Right! Of course you do. So let’s just say you’ve already been practicing all those things (wow! Impressive.) What’s next? How can you know His will for your life?
Jesus said in John 10:3-4 that He is the Shepherd and we, His ‘sheep’, can hear and recognize His voice. Have you heard Him? If you don’t think you have heard Him speak, do you trust Him to lead you in the way you should go? (see Psalm 32:8) Take me, for example. When I was trying to figure out where to go to college, I asked God over and over, “What is Your will!?!?” It was a very frustrating time, because I never heard Him respond! But no one had taught me that God would lead me in the path He had planned for me as long as I asked Him and trusted Him. Sometimes the answer can come through something as simple as a confident feeling.
“But I’m not supposed to trust my feelings!” you say. I have heard that said, but when we are looking for God’s will, He can give you an answer in many ways! Sometimes He will speak to you through strange circumstances and sometimes through the mouth of a friend. The answer could come through a prophecy that someone gives you who knows nothing of the decision you are facing. God will also speak to you while you are reading the Bible. For me, it was just a confident feeling that I should go to that specific college. And I never regretted it! [For more ways to hear God’s voice, check out my book, “How & Why to: Pray for Healing, Pray in Tongues & Give Prophecy.”]
But if you’re looking for all the answers at once: “Who am I going to marry, God? And where should I go to school? Don’t forget to tell me what I should major in!” well, don’t count on it! God will almost always give you His will for you one piece at a time. He’s not going to tell you your entire future in one sitting. (I think if He did, it would freak us out!) Your life is far more complicated than that! But He will give you little impressions, thoughts, dreams and sometimes images. He will speak to you more about His immediate will than His will for the future, because He wants you to trust Him!
Knowing the will of God is really all about knowing God. The more you know Him, the clearer His will for your life will become, and the more you will hear Him.
But relax!! Don’t be consumed with worry that you will never discover His will. He will give you answers. But more importantly, when you make sure to trust Him and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, His will will find you.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”