It’s Not a Mystery
Read James 4:15-17 (ESV)
Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
Can we know God’s will for our lives?
So many people think of God’s will for their lives as this mysterious path that they have to somehow discover and figure out how to walk on. It’s true that we don’t know the future and we don’t know all the details that God has planned for our individual lives. Last week, we read in James 4:14 that we don’t even know what tomorrow brings! So no, we don’t know if it will still be God’s will for us to be working the same job next year. We don’t know God’s will about where we will live in the next 5 years. Frankly, we don’t even know if it will be God’s will that we are still alive tomorrow! But does that mean God’s will for our lives is a big mystery?
In today’s verses, James stressed that we should always be seeking the Lord’s will instead of our own. As we discussed last week, it is arrogant and presumptuous of us to play God and make plans without consulting Him and without acknowledging that God may have different plans for us than the ones we make ourselves. For “many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand (Proverbs 19:21). God will always have His way.
So many people think they have their lives all figured out. They live as if they’ll never die. If they do acknowledge their mortality, it is so they can say that “you only live once” so you better “live it up.” They consider themselves to be the master of their own destiny. But James tells us that living this way is boastful, arrogant, and evil.
Instead, he says that we should humbly make our plans, acknowledging that ultimately God will decide what we have the opportunity to do. Our success will depend on Him. Furthermore, our plans should always honor and obey the Lord because if they don’t, that is a surefire sign that it is not God’s will for us. Plus, James said that if we know right from wrong and engage in the wrong anyway, that is sinful. If you know better, you better do it right and honestly, most of us know better.
You see, God hasn’t revealed the details of our lives to us but that doesn’t mean we don’t know God’s will. When we go back to the Bible, we see that God has revealed His will for our lives in every command He gives in Scripture. Let’s check out a few.
In Ephesians 5:15-17 Paul wrote, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” He then went on to say don’t get drunk. But do sing to the Lord, do give thanks, and submit to God and to each other.
Paul also clearly listed key aspects of God’s will for our lives in 1 Thessalonians. “Finally, then, brother, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” (4:1-3). Then he lists abstaining from sexual immorality, exercising self-control, being holy, worthy of honor, and not sinning against each other, but loving each other with brotherly love instead (1 Thessalonians 4:4-10).
In the next chapter, Paul wrote, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). This is just a small sample of Scripture that tells us what God wants us to do with our lives.
So you see, God’s will for our lives is no mystery! His will is revealed to us in His Word. We don’t know what the future holds but we know how to walk in His will. The Bible clearly tells us how we ought to live—in a way that pleases and obeys God! Friends, since we know the right thing to do, let’s not fail to do it!
God, thank You for Your Word. You didn’t leave us to wonder how to live or how to please You, but You clearly communicated what You expect. Help me to follow Your commands and do what You’ve said is right. I want to live a life that pleases You. Amen.