Throughout our lives, we make many decisions that require us to discern the will of the Lord. The choice of a spouse, a career path, a college major, whether to take a particular job, and many others are life-changing, and so we want to make sure that we choose rightly. Making these decisions can be difficult even when the choice before us seems fairly obvious, but it seems all but impossible when we have two or more equally good options before us. Though many Christians have been able to see a special providence that helps them make their final choice, this is not the normal way that God guides us. Furthermore, when we think we have received a providential direction from the Lord, we need a sound manner for discerning whether He is pointing us one way or whether we are just engaged in wishful thinking.
As we will see in the course of our study, there is no magic shortcut for figuring out the will of God for our lives. The Lord has spoken in His Word, and although divine revelation has bearing on all aspects of life, it does not give specific answers for many of the particular decisions that we make. Instead, it gives us principles that we are to wisely apply in our decision making.
One thing we know for certain is that no matter our individual vocation or calling, God has the same basic will for all of us. As Paul says in today’s passage, the Lord’s will is for our sanctification, for our rejection of impurity and our growth in holiness (1 Thess. 4:3–8). If one of the options before us would work against our sanctification, we can be sure that choosing that option is not God’s will. In fact, as we make the most significant choices in life, we should consider whether the options before us will promote spiritual growth. That way, we can choose what will create circumstances that provide the best environment for becoming more like Christ.
Discerning which path will provide the best opportunity for our sanctification is not always easy. However, if we take our personal growth into consideration, then we will be more likely to choose that which will make us more holy. When you are making major decisions, do you consider the possible spiritual ramifications of the options before you?
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