Misconceptions of God’s Will
After reviewing previous parts in this series, Ken Boa looks at eight common misconceptions about God’s will.
1. “I must pray about each decision I make.”
Some decisions are simply a matter of common sense and do not require a process of discernment. For example, if you have already enrolled in college, it is common sense that you should also attend your classes.
2. “God’s will is often contrary to human reason.”
God gave us our minds for a reason, and He invites us to use them in the decision-making process. When we submit our thinking to the authority of God’s Word, we are not leaving our brains behind. Rather, we have “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Although God sometimes asks us to do things that do not seem to make sense, that is not the norm.
3. “To submit to God’s will, I must give up my happiness.”
God’s will is not meant to make us miserable but to bring us freedom, fulfillment, and joy (Psalm 37:4; John 15:11). If we have not submitted to His will, this will not seem true. It is only when you “delight yourself in the Lord” that “He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4) since only then will you desire what is truly good for yourself.
4. “If I follow God’s will, my problems will be over.”
All things being equal, it is true that many of our self-generated problems will dissipate when we submit to God’s will rather than our own. But that does not eliminate the spiritual warfare that surrounds us until Christ’s return. The world, the flesh, and the devil are opposed to the gospel, and so we will not be exempt from trials, temptations, and persecutions in this life.
Furthermore, this attitude fails to recognize that God actually uses suffering for our good in many ways—including for our sanctification and for the provision of unique ministry opportunities. Paul even considers it a privilege to share in Christ’s sufferings (Philippians 3:10).
5. “If I stray too far from God’s will, He won’t be able to use me again.”
If you struggle with this mindset, just take a look at the names listed in Hebrews 11. Many of the people listed had moments (and for some, much more than a moment) of straying far from God’s will, yet they are remembered as the greatest heroes of the Old Testament. They were used by God despite their shortcomings.
6. “If I commit my life to God, He will want me to go to seminary.”
Every Christian is a full-time minister of the gospel. But that does not mean every Christian should go into professional ministry. In the earliest days of the church, the gospel spread like wildfire in part because people in ordinary jobs spread the good news to their co-workers. Your job is your arena of influence. If everyone left the marketplace to become a professional minister, the church would lose the unique opportunities that arise in the context of the workplace.
7. “I must have special confirmation before making important decisions.”
God will not mislead us by clouding the waters as we seek to obey His will. Instead, so long as we are truly seeking His will, not our own, we can make decisions confidently without anxiety. If you have a particular sense of unrest about a decision, that may be reason to pause, but there is no need to expect subjective confirmation of every decision.
8. “God wants me to respond to every need.”
The gifts and the callings of God will be different. You might have a burden for a particular need, while another person might have a burden for a different need. God utilizes the diversity within the body of Christ in such a way that no one person is responsible for more than their own allotment within their own sphere of influence. It is better to do a few things well than to do many with mediocrity.