Over the years, I have heard many people stand up in a church meeting and ask: How do we know the will of God? This is a question that perplexes many people who believe that God will reveal His specific will for every area of their lives. The problem is that they never seem quite sure that it is God who is speaking in answer to their many prayers for guidance.
It would be nice to wake up every morning with a daily “to-do list” from the Heavenly Father. But from what I know about God, He wants us to pray for wisdom and guidance to help us make the right decisions, and then use our own free will to honor and glorify Him:
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV).
This does not mean that we are left alone to make our own decisions. God reveals His general will for us in the Holy Scriptures, and there might be times when He makes His will abundantly clear to us. But in most cases, He is happy to allow us to use our own minds concerning the thousands of decisions that we make every day.
Theodore Roosevelt once said this about decision making: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Don’t be afraid to make a decision if you honestly believe that it is the right thing to do. If we make a mistake, we are called to learn from our failure. We pick ourselves up and try again. But Jesus warned us about not even trying:
“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (Matthew 25:29).
In the parable told by Jesus in Matthew 25, the other servants did what they could with the money that was given to them to varying degrees of success and were rewarded, but the one who didn’t make an attempt was severely reprimanded. This means that God has given each of us a specific talent or skill, and we are to use that gift to honor and glorify Him.
God might not give us specific instructions about how to use our gifts to honor and serve Him, but He does expect us to use them to the best of our ability. God cannot bless our efforts if we don’t put forth the effort.
In Matthew 15, Jesus fed four thousand people with seven small loaves of bread and a few fish. But the initial offering came from the disciples. God can multiply our talents in miraculous ways if we would simply use the gifts He gives us.
God reveals His general will to us in the Holy Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit will help us to make the right decisions concerning what has been revealed to us. But while God has given us a revelation of His will in the Bible, He expects us to make our own decisions about how to use the gifts that He has given us to proclaim the gospel of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.