(This is the Concluding Article in a 6-Part Series on “Discerning an Open Door.”)
Do you ever find yourself wanting to take every great opportunity that comes your way?
Just because an opportunity presents itself and it looks appealing, doesn't necessarily mean it is from God. And sometimes there are good reasons to say “no” and pass on that opportunity.
gives us principles to help us discern God’s best for us, as well as to recognize what might be a trap. Here are five reasons not
to take every open door that presents itself.
1. That Opportunity Might Be One Too Many
Is your life already overscheduled? Would adding one more opportunity to your plate send you – or your family – over the edge? We tend to think the busier we are, the more productive we are being, or the more pleased God will be with us. However, God would rather have us spend time with
Him than do a bunch of things for
Him (Matthew 22:37
). Pray that God will help you prioritize people over productivity and to value what He values most. As you seek Him first, and His kingdom, He will cause your needs to be met within His perfect will, provision, and timing (Matthew 6:33
). God will not lead you toward an opportunity that will cause you to give less than best to the priority commitments in your life (God, your marriage, your family, your health, and so on). Nor will He open a door that would require personal compromise or disobedience in order for you to enter. I would call anything that contradicts God’s Word, competes with your commitments to Him or your family, or causes stress in any way a temptation
, rather than an open door from God. And God's Word clearly says that God does not tempt us (James 1:13-14
2. That Open Door Might Represent Your Desire, but Not God’s
In our humanity, it’s natural for us to want whatever pays well, looks comfortable, and doesn’t require much of us. But comfort and convenience has never been God’s specific will for us. He wants us to seek Him first (Matthew 6:33
). My husband is in a two-year sabbatical from the pastoral ministry. As he seeks a new job, he has been careful to pray that God will strip him of his own desires and fill his heart with Gods’ desires – ensuring that he takes a job based on what God wants, rather than what he merely wants for himself. Psalm 37:4
tells us “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
As you seek God and His best for you, ask Him to plant His desires firmly in your heart. There’s nothing worse than assuming God’s desires are the same as ours – or wishing our desires onto Him – and then interpreting them as His will. Jeremiah 17:9
says “The heart is deceitful above all things…”
Ask God to give you a heart focused on His
desires and His
best for your life, and then see if that opportunity still exists.
3. That Door Might be a Way Up, but Not God’s Way Up
We are attracted to situations that elevate us. A promotion. A higher pay scale. A greater responsibility. More accolades or esteem. Sometimes these come as blessings from God’s hand. But if there is pride, dependence on self, boasting on our behalf, or even the feeling that we got where we did by ourselves, that opportunity or promotion is likely not coming from God. God’s way up is down. The Bible’s instruction is to “humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
And in Psalm 18:35
we read that God’s
help or gentleness is what makes us great. Not our own boldness, brazenness or accomplishments. If your opportunity has come because you have pushed or shoved to get to the top, it’s not likely from God. God stoops down to those who are humble and lowly, rather than reaching up to those who believe they’re already at the top. God is interested in our heart formation, our character development, and our growing likeness to the character of His son. Therefore, He will lift us up in His way. And His way up is down.
4. That Door Might Not Stretch You
says: "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."
Many times an "open door" from God is one that allows our faith to be stretched and strengthened. That, after all, is God's objective for us: to grow in faith and Christ-likeness. Therefore, if you find yourself saying “I can do this, hands-down, no problem” it might not necessarily be from God. But, if your response is more of a holy dread ("I can't do this without God’s enabling”) I would say, in my personal experience, it’s likely something God is calling you to do.
5. That Door Might be a Distraction
In my husband’s and my experience, there were opportunities that came our way that looked great, but as we prayed about them, we lacked peace. And there was no reason for not having peace other than that the Spirit of God was preventing it. Those same opportunities promised more money, more comfort, more “personal happiness” (at least we thought so at the time). But in retrospect, God prevented us from experiencing peace about those “great opportunities” because He had something far better for us down the road.
God’s “no” is sometimes “Wait… I have something far better for you that you haven’t yet asked for.” And when we rush ahead, many times we preclude Him from giving us what was better. Ask Him “Is this Your very best for me?” And wait on Him for the peace to move forward or the patience to wait for the better door that is not yet open.
Publication date: June 2, 2016