“We have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.” (Colossians 1:9-10; New Living Translation)
What a great prayer! “May God give you complete knowledge of His will, and give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Paul says if we have this, our lives will be good and growing in every way!
But who can know the will of God? Is this not one of the great conundrums of our faith? We want to know His will. Truly, we do. Should we marry this person, buy that car, go to this school, take that job, go to this church, etc.? But He seems uncomfortably quiet much of the time.
If growth and the good life come from “complete knowledge of His will,” which the Apostle Paul suggests, why does God keep it such a secret?
Perhaps He doesn’t.
We pray for His will and for wisdom, only to (seemingly) hit a wall. Paper does not float from heaven. We hear no audible voice. We don’t receive visions. But we earnestly and sincerely desire His leading.
Have we misunderstood the will of God? Are we looking for the wrong thing in the wrong places? Or are we simply out of touch? For many Christians, this can produce enormous frustration.
But we can have “complete knowledge of His will.” Paul lays it out explicitly (and in part) in his earlier letter to the Thessalonians.
“This is God’s will for you, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Perhaps if we started to live more fully and intentionally into this general and revealed will, we’d grow and experience “every kind of good fruit.”
To put it simply, when we pursue “the Thessalonian prescription” (holiness, purity, joy, prayer, and gratitude) every day and in every way, decision-making comes easy.
We live in a time when Christian leaders keep telling us that God has a particular plan for our lives, a plan to prosper us and use us to change the world. We like the sound of it. It puts us front and center in God’s mind and in our own eyes. We like that. A lot. Can we release this yearning for importance?
God’s will is less a mystery than we imagine, and more challenging than we have thought. Yet it yields life!
“May God give you complete knowledge of His will, and give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.”