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1 John 2:17 – And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (NKJV)

Determining God’s Will can be tough because it’s not always a simple matter of right and wrong. When we are struggling with discerning God’s Will, the answer becomes easy the moment we run across an aspect that is obviously “wrong” or “sinful” (the answer is easy, but admitting the answer not always is!).

But sometimes we struggle with deciding God’s Will concerning things that truly are NOT sinful in general such as serving in a ministry. Doing this with a humble heart and the right motives is not inherently sinful. So deciding whether or not God wants you to do it can be a difficult task. First, let’s review what we’ve learned so far.

Bible study, prayer and meditation are the hard work of knowing God’s Will. And therein lies the problem: it’s hard work. That’s why it seems so elusive to many Christians. Let’s review what we have learned so far. When trying to determine God’s will:

  • First off, does God’s Word contain a plain and direct answer to your question or circumstance?
    • You have to diligently and regularly search God’s Word and do the hard work of finding out God’s revealed, written Word (2Tim 2.15; Acts 17.11)
    • If you find a direct and clear answer, then it simply boils down to a matter of obedience; simple to understand, frequently not simple to actually do. (1 John 5.2; James 1.22)
    • A few examples of this might be:
      • Can I lie if it is for a “good” reason? No (Colossians 3:9)
      • Can we sleep together if we’re engaged and in love? No (Col 3.5; Heb 13.4)
      • Is it okay to gossip for any reason? No (Matt 12.36; Prov 17.9)
      • My employer treats me bad, do I still have to work hard? Yes (1Thess 4.11-12; Col 3.17; 1Pet 2.18-19)
      • Is it okay to treat some people better than others based on their social status or income? No (James 2.2-4)
  • If there is no direct answer in the Bible, how do you know God’s Will for the “gray areas” (those things the Scriptures don’t address plainly or directly)
    • This is the idea of “working out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2.12)
      • Working hard to know God’s Word, praying for understanding, asking the Spirit for guidance
    • Ask yourself “is this really necessary?”
      • Meditate on Hebrews 12.1; is there “extra weight” involved that could be thrown off?
      • Based on your decision, will it matter in 2 weeks or two months or in eternity? Will you still be suffering consequences in 2 years or 20 years?
    • How would Christ respond?
      • Walk as Jesus would walk; choose, speak and decide the same way the Lord would in your situation (Col 1.10; 1Thess 2.12)
    • Is it worthy of my epitaph?
      • Determine how you want your life to end up, will this decision help you reach that result, or hinder you?
    • Will others be drawn to Christ or turned away?
      • Will you’re family, friends, co-workers and those viewing you’re life be drawn closer to Christ or become less interested in God by your decision? It is important for us to make decisions that will make the use of our time to fulfill God’s purpose (Col 4.5)

We need to learn that there are many considerations in determining God’s will. It’s not just about what we desire, or “right and wrong”, or what’s most advantageous to us. Biblically, our priority of concern flows down three levels in this order: God, others, then us personally (Matt 22.37; Rom 12.10).

We cannot discern God’s Will when we get the order wrong,
which occurs when considering “me” before God and others.

Today’s question that helps us in determining God’s Will is:

What is the most edifying decision I can make?

First let’s define the word “edify”:

  • to instruct or improve spiritually, from Latin, to erect a house
  • build; establish;
  • to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge
  • uplift; enlighten; inform

So as you can see from the definition we are not considering a choice between good or bad, right or wrong; we are trying to determine what is better, or the best… what is MOST edifying.

  • Which choice will instruct or improve you the most spiritually?
  • Which choice will build you up and help you establish a deeper relationship with God?
  • Which choice will give you greater instruction and improvement, morally and spiritually?
  • Which choice will enlighten you more about God and cause you to be more informed about the Lord?

This aspect of God’s Will is more difficult to discern because the answers are all varying degrees of good. Some choices will be good and perfectly okay with God. Other choices will be better and not only okay, they will also be of some noticeable benefit to you in your growth as a Christian.

And yet another choice may be the very best, and not only okay with God, it will be especially blessed because you have chosen what will bring the most glory to the Lord.

Most times choosing the “best” over “better”
or “good” will also carry the highest price
in effort, discipline and sacrifice.

Choosing the best will rarely be synonymous with choosing the easiest. There are few things in the “worthy walk” that are easy (not to be confused with joyful, light or peaceful). Easy is rarely “the best” in the sense that the most spiritual growth and depth would be the result.

The first thing to consider may sound too simple to bring up, but let’s not make the mistake of assuming everyone will know to ask first: “is my choice edifying at all?”

1 Corinthians 10:23 – All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. (NKJV)

Some things may be permissible within the bounds of our Christian liberty, but that doesn’t automatically mean that everything permissible is also edifying. Now, working under that assumption that our choice IS edifying, then we need to consider the idea of “good, better, best”. Sometimes “Option A ” is good, “Option B ” is better and “Option C ” might be best. Just the effort it takes to recognize and understand that there is more than one choice is beneficial in and of itself.

What is MOST edifying will be what brings the MOST glory to God. Being honest enough to see the difference, mature enough to consider it and humble enough to keep from deceiving ourselves are the ingredients of spiritual maturity.

I’m going to leave the point there and not beat it to death. This is not a simple consideration or idea. There are no pat answers or checklists to follow. It takes trust in God, prayer and patience. But it’s worth the effort.

Father in Heaven, help us to understand the idea of edification. Open our eyes to what is “best” in bringing glory to You. In Jesus name we ask, Amen.

Contemplation: When discerning God’s will, do you ever think of whether something “good”, might not be the “best”? Which would you honestly prefer if you only had two choices: 1) something good that YOU desire the most?; or 2) something better that brings God more glory, but YOU don’t really desire?

Application: On the surface, this concept seems simple enough, but the potential for deceiving ourselves is huge. We are masters at rationalizing the “edification factor” to match our personal desire. But, it remains that determining God’s Will sometimes involves finding out what is BEST in the face of other choices that may very well be good themselves. God receiving the most glory seems to be key to this particular aspect of determining His Will.

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?