“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
John Piper brought this up in a recent podcast episode concerning seeking God’s will, and I really appreciated the way he applied this verse to that issue. One point he emphasized is “so that you may discern”. What I got out of that was a change of emphasis from getting the answers I want to developing the character that God wants me to have. The point is not to get the answer I’m looking for right now, but instead to develop a pattern of thinking and being that will naturally cause me to be more attuned to perceiving and receiving God’s will over a lifetime, and not just in this particular moment. I am not seeking Him for a verdict for this particular decision today, instead I am A.) getting to know Him better, and B.) Giving Him the glory for the causing the personal changes that make a person more receptive to His will over a lifetime.
Seek Him for this particular decision, but keep in mind that He might give an answer for your life and character as a whole, rather than the decision you’re trying to make in this moment. I know that does not seem very helpful, but it’s just that God often shoots for longer term goals than I do.
“And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and in every type of discernment, so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ.”
Again, two points that Piper emphasized which really stood out to me were 1.) that you may abound in love, and 2.) that you might approve what is excellent. To me, these two points mean that 1.) that the effort you put forth toward seeking God should be bearing the fruit of love, not guilt, or legalism, or pride, and 2.) that a pattern of Godly wisdom and an attunement with the leading of the Holy Spirit is increasing in your life.
Seeking the will of God for life decisions:
– I believe that a huge portion of the work that the Holy Spirit does in a person is to massively change their thinking and emotions so that they are able to effectively receive the blessings, lessons, and revelations of God.
– Some are of greater consequence than others. I believe that marriage, and who to marry is of great consequence. That is an important decision to work through. Which shirt to wear today, less so. Decisions about education and career are important, but you can change directions later if it becomes clear that there is something better for you.
– Don’t take life too seriously. It’s less about the circumstances themselves, and more about the person you become while going through them. I had a conversation with someone about foreign missionary work, which was challenging and thought provoking. Naturally, I started thinking about ways in which I didn’t feel qualified to do something like that. But who said it was about my worthiness? My assumption was that a person with that calling was being called so that they could win those people, but do I really know the full scope of God’s thinking when He gives a calling like that? Do I really know the full spectrum of ways that God will/can use a particular circumstance? Maybe the spiritual benefits of that calling are as much for the person called as they are to the people being ministered to.
– Even if you are in a situation that you would deem to be less than what God has called you to, if your heart is toward Him, He will use it anyway. Your life is not to be defined by the perfection or imperfection of your decisions up to this point, but rather by God’s ability to redeem, restore, and multiply. In our desire for righteousness, it is possible to take on, or try to carry weight that is not profitable for righteousness.
– Focus on the road ahead and not the line beside you. You don’t drive a car leaning out the window watching how close your tires are to the lane line (that’s the kind of mindset that gets hung up on the details and loses sight of the big picture, the mindset that strains out gnats and swallows a camel, a rebuke to the Pharisees which sounds like a distant problem, but it’s not, because it manifests in the impulse to bear weights, to bear concerns that are not actually profitable for righteousness), instead, to drive a car, and keep it on the road, by focus on the road ahead. Yes, you maintain awareness of your surroundings, but your primary focus is on the road ahead, and that focus keeps you on the path.