There are few questions more pressing for a young person than, “How can I know God’s will?” Decisions about education, career, finances, and relationships loom over us, and it is only natural to be intimidated. How do we approach these decisions in a thoroughly Christian way? Here are two basic assumptions that must undergird our efforts to know God’s will.
The first basic assumption is that God wants us to make good decisions. The book of Proverbs is an extended sermon urging us to be wise, and not to be fools, in every aspect of our lives. Wise people fear God (1:7), avoid sexual sin (6:24), use their tongue to benefit others (12:18), and honour their parents (15:5). Wise people, in short, are Christians. According to Proverbs 27:12, then, Christians are people who make good decisions: “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.”
The second basic assumption is that good decisions reflect God’s revealed will. Jesus enters into a relationship with those that do God’s will. A relationship that transcends even human family relations. “Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven,” he said, “the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:50). When we do God’s will, we are imitating our Saviour. He said: “I came not do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). He taught us not only to do the Father’s will, but also to desire it in prayer: “Our Father which art in heaven… thy will be done” (Matt 6:10). Where can we know God’s will? The short answer is: He has revealed it to us in His word.
As we seek to make decisions, we should bear these two principles in mind. We should not be careless in making decisions. Bad decisions will harm us, those around us, and potentially dishonour God. We should also make decisions that are agreeable to the will of God revealed throughout Scripture. When we make good decisions, we act like our Saviour, and we honour God. Next, we consider a Biblical example of discovering God’s will.