‘Teach me to do Your will…’
In considering God’s will for your life, let’s begin with: what you pretend to be. When you know you’re doing His will, you can drop the mask. You don’t have to convince people you’re important while secretly fearing you’re not. Nothing is more boring or disconcerting than someone who ‘name-drops’ in order to make an impression. A newly-promoted lieutenant was eager to impress his underlings, so when a young private walked into his office the lieutenant pretended to be on the phone with the general. ‘Yes, General, you can count on me, Sir,’ he said, as he banged the receiver down. Turning to the private he asked what he wanted. ‘I’m just here to connect your phone, sir.’ Pretending to be what you’re not is hard work. That’s why you feel so tired after a first date, or a job interview, or when you’re around people who expect you to project a certain image. Inside you is an unpretentious person. And it’s such a relief not having to act humbler than you are, or feign that you pray more, or know more about the Bible than you do. The good news is that you never have to pretend with God; genuine brokenness pleases Him more than spiritual pretentiousness. To fulfil His will and become the person He wants you to be, you need to be honest about who you really are. The Psalmist prayed, ‘Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.’ So be who you are. When you do that—God will do the rest.
‘I delight to do Your will, O my God…’
In discovering and doing God’s will for your life, you must come to terms with what you think you should be. Comparison kills spiritual growth. For example, the mother of three young children hears her pastor preach about Christians who rise at dawn every day to spend an hour of quiet time with God. The fact is, she’d love an hour of quiet time—anytime! But her kids won’t cooperate! So what she takes away from the sermon is that she doesn’t measure up as a Christian. In essence, she’s practising ‘spirituality by comparison’ and living under a cloud of guilt. It doesn’t occur to her that the love she expresses to her children counts as a spiritual activity. Or that she may be serving God more faithfully than somebody who neglects their family in order to have that hour of quiet every morning. Another example: a gregarious, spontaneous husband is married to a woman who enjoys solitude. It comes easily to her. Nevertheless, he feels like he’s a failure when it comes to prayer because he doesn’t enjoy being alone the way his wife does. He doesn’t consider that his joy and willingness in serving others counts, or that the degree to which he loves them is shaping his soul and delighting God. ‘Should’ is an important word, but when it comes to spiritual growth, God doesn’t want you to obey Him just because you ‘should’. He designed you to want His plan for your life—to get to the place where you can say, ‘I delight to do Your will, O my God.’
‘…Prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.’
In order to fulfil God’s will for your life, you’ll have to deal with what other people want you to be. Your boss wants you to be more productive. Your health club wants you to be fitter. Your credit card company wants you to be deeper in debt. It seems like everybody has an agenda for you, and, if you spend your life trying to meet their expectations, you’ll never be free. Sometimes loving people means having to disappoint them. Seeking to become the person others want you to be is a shallow way to live. Nobody can tell you exactly how to change, because only God knows. Even you can’t tell yourself how to change, because you didn’t create yourself. To love someone is to desire and work toward their becoming the best possible version of themselves. And the one person in the entire universe who’s qualified to do this is God. Unlike people, God has no hidden agenda or unmet needs that He’s hoping you can help Him with. He knows what the best version of you looks like. He delights in the very idea of it, and is already working to bring it to fruition in your life. The Bible says, ‘…In all things God works for the good of those who love Him…’ (Romans 8:28 NIV). That means God is at work every moment to help you become His best version of you. And you’ll only be truly free when you make up your mind to be happy about being the person God meant you to be—the one He’s working on every day.
‘…Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith…’
To fulfil God’s will for your life and become the person He wants you to be, you must deal with the ‘me’ you’re afraid God wants you to be. Most people equate spiritual maturity with trying hard to follow the rules of the Bible. But as long as you think God’s aim is to produce rule-followers, spiritual growth will feel like an obligation rather than a desire of your heart. Paul writes, ‘Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping.’ Rigid adherence to rules and regulations produces a desire-smothering, emotion-controlling, self-righteous person. The Bible says, ‘…The written law brings death, but the Spirit gives life’ (2 Corinthians 3:6 NCV). There’s a big difference between following rules and following Jesus, because you can’t follow Jesus without cultivating the right heart. Jesus didn’t say, ‘I have come that you might follow the rules.’ He said, ‘…I have come that [you] may have life, and…have it more abundantly’ (John 10:10 NKJV). Until you understand that spiritual growth is moving toward God’s best version of yourself, the question, ‘How’s your spiritual life going?’ will intimidate you. A nagging sense of guilt and deceit will prompt you to say, ‘Not too well. Not as good as it should be.’ People are apt to use external behaviours and devotional practices to gauge their spiritual health. For example, they measure by how early they get up to read and pray, how long their quiet times are, or how often they attend church. That’s not what spiritual formation is about. It’s about your relationship with Christ, not rule-keeping!
Used with permission – UCB (United Christian Broadcasters) Word For Today – http://www.ucb.co.uk/word-for-today.html
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