Life is full of choices. At some point you have to make them. The least you can do is be honest about the choices you make. And when it comes to God, you only have two — you can choose to obey or choose to disobey. Nowhere in the middle. That is the choice.
I’d like to explore a fictional story for a moment. Humor me.
A young woman, experiencing the natural unease of two years of newly married life, decided it hadn’t been God’s will for her to marry her husband after all — he wasn’t God’s best for her. She told him, in this newly enlightened phase of their two years together — that she’d never loved him, she’d only married him because God told her to, she now realized he hadn’t, and she was therefore suicidal because of not being in God’s perfect will. She handed her husband, who she’d gushingly vowed before God to love and cherish the rest of her life just two years before, divorce papers and left him with a clear conscience, now finally in God’s perfect will.
Crazy, I know. Silly to even bring this up. Keep talking like that and you might start sending candy stripers around my door. I get it.
Well, I started by saying I’d like to imagine a fictional story. Unfortunately, I can’t. This is real.
A young married couple who preached together in pulpits shared they’re getting a divorce because she isn’t in God’s perfect will being married to him.
And that’s… okay. Really. You can do that in this world. In a place where every cent of your four dollars and change can be returned to you if you declare your Starbucks latte beans were a bit over-roasted (hint- they always are), it’s no surprise hitting the do-over button and resetting your life is so attractive.
But here’s the thing. You can’t pin that on God. You can’t set him on the little ant pile you’ve fussed up, make him king of the hill, and call it God’s best for your life.
There are rules, son, and this ain’t ‘Nam.
You have to face the symphony conductor, and say, “I know what’s right. This isn’t it. And I choose to reject God.”
At least be honest with yourself.
You see, there’s no elusive “God’s perfect will.”
There is no exact plan you have to find, weird code to crack, tightrope to tiptoe across to find God and be blessed. No sidewalk prophets moaning, “Whatever your will, won’t you help me find it” necessary, as though a perfect will is one step ahead of you, daring you to find it.
But there is simple obedience.
If you love me, you will obey my commandments. (John 14.15)
Obey. Not give a nod to my Word and say “Whatz up?” while you head in the other direction. Sure, God leads with his Holy Spirit. But he does so in accordance with his Word, never in spite of it. The woman’s husband above became God’s best for her, and God’s only — as well as his “perfect will” — the moment she said I do. The Bible says it’s adultery if she ever marries another man again.
And I say to you: whoever divorces his [spouse], except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery. (Matthew 19.9)
That was Jesus. Those are red letter words.
It’s beyond sad it’s so poignant, but in our entitled American culture, I have no doubt she’s still praying God sends her the one.
See, what I’ve found is most people who use the phrase “God’s perfect will” or “God’s best” mean something better out there they could have instead of what God has given them, and they use it as an excuse to abandon their life and commitments for this elusive best. Or they mean God has a perfect will of holiness that is unachievable, so they can settle for something less that they assume won’t be too far off the mark.
And the irony is the people who claim God’s perfect will came to them are often the same who use it to disregard his actual will simply stated in his Word.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “Well, I know it’s not God’s best, but…”
But?? There’s your hint. Don’t do it.
Right after that BUT is where Christians live everything that matters about their faith.
After that BUT comes the true heart of one’s faith. It doesn’t matter if a person is a father in the faith, grandmother, pastor, elder, or the world’s nicest person. Right after saying, “I know it isn’t God’s perfect will, BUT…” a person reveals his or her true heart.
See, if we label simple obedience to God “God’s best” or “God’s perfect will” like it’s some unattainable Olympic-level hurdle in the sky, or some ridiculously unachievable spiritual benchmark God couldn’t possibly expect of us, we imply there’s a God’s “pretty darn good” where we can hang around in a wind-breaker and sip coffee without making an attempt and be okay. It even implies there’s a “whatever’s cool, really man” participation ribbon for being a Christian and thinking of God before not doing anything He says. God doesn’t operate in relative degrees of thoughtful introspection. He’s looking for obedience.
For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose hearts are completely His. (2 Chronicles 16.9)
He’s looking for hearts who are completely His.
If there’s a door he wants you to walk through, a person to be faithful to, a family to stay committed to, or a promise to keep, he isn’t awarding gold-labeled red ribbons for musing a couple minutes before rejecting the proposal.
There’s do or do not.
Obey or disobey.
Love God or reject him.
If you love me, you will obey my commandments. (John 14.15)
Those are the only options.
If there’s an area in which you aren’t following God’s Word — and you know it — you aren’t in God’s hey-thanks-for-considering-it-now-do-your-thing crowd. You are in flat out disobedience. Rejecting God. Not inches from the best in some nearby Grace-airspace. Crashing and burning over foreign waters. Do I have to tell you whose waters those are? God forbid you claim “it isn’t God’s perfect will, but…” as you humiliate Him before the world.
Leaving your wife because she’s controlling? Starting a fling with a co-worker because your needs aren’t being met? Banging someone because you’re divorced so what’s the point in saving your purity again?
Rejecting God. It’s not fun-zone in the ball pit at God’sWillLand. It’s disobedience.
NOW is the time for us to fear and love God enough to obey him. Will you make that choice? When the Word requires you choose to be a slave to sin or righteousness?
You are slaves of the one you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness. (Romans 6.16)
This isn’t Monopoly or Operation. We’re not playing GraceLand where you willfully disobey and get a few bucks less as you pass Go. Or the experimental operation on your soul goes awry so you begin again. You’re making yourself either a slave to sin, which leads to death — if you choose to disobey God — or a slave to obedience, which leads to righteousness. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
When an opportunity to sin comes, I pray you don’t say, “Well, I know it isn’t God’s perfect will…,” or “It’s not God’s best…,” but instead “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”
Keeping your eyes on the prize.
God’s desire for you is intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ. But this can all be destroyed by willful disobedience:
Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. (1 Timothy 1.19)
Let’s love Jesus with all our “heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Luke 10.27) and obey his Word as God perfects us into the likeness of his Son — his pleasing and perfect will for us — rather than choose a path we rationalize is only a few wrong turns from his perfect Way.
If you’re genuinely searching for God’s will, look for it in the Word of God. Let his Spirit speak to you through that, and as you listen in line with it, you’ll know his “good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Romans 12.2), not some elusive pathway in the skies.
But most likely you already know what God wants you to do if you’ve used these phrases once or twice, and your conscience is quietly convicting you.
May I ask a simple request of you — one that God is asking, as well?
I ask that you simply do it.
Oh yeah, and please don’t ever use that stupid phrase again.
Then maybe you’ll come to discover God’s perfect will for your life, not by following unreliable emotions or shrugging at some untouchable spiritual hurdle in the sky, but simply by choosing the child-like response of following Daddy God and finding your feet fall in step not far from his own.