Discerning the will of God isn’t hard; the Bible is clear what we are to do
As Paul wraps up his first letter to the Thessalonian church, he slips in three quick instructions. These concise commands seem like soundbites. And once he delivers them, he concludes that doing these things is the will of God for all those who follow Jesus.
We all want to know what the will of God is and often struggle to figure it out. Yet the Bible tells us the answer most clearly:
To rejoice means to be delighted or to feel joyful. An old definition of rejoice means “to fill with joy.” That understanding is more helpful in getting at the intention of this instruction. To fill with joy gives us a nice word picture of what it means to rejoice always.
We all know people whose lives are marked with joy. We also know grouches who live in a continual state of complaining. Those people exist outside the will of God, at least that’s what Paul says in the Bible. Instead, God’s will for us, all of us who follow Jesus, is to rejoice always.
Next Paul tells us to pray continually. I wonder if he means for us to be in nonstop prayer throughout the day or if the word continually is hyperbole to make his point and get our attention.
Some days it seems that God is an afterthought. I hardly pray, if at all, let alone continually. But for other days, though not nearly as many as I would like, God is at the forefront of my mind in most all that I do.
I’m aware of his presence, and we go through the day together, in a state of near constant communication. This could be what Paul means when he says to pray continually. And it is God’s will for us to do so. That’s what the Bible says.
Give Thanks In All Circumstances
The third aspect of doing God’s will is to show thankfulness in all situations. Sometimes this is challenging. Yet even when the worst happens, there’s usually something to be thankful for. It takes practice to develop the skill to see things in every context that we can appreciate.
However, since it’s God’s will for us to give thanks in every circumstance, we must develop this skill. As the prior instruction tells us, this is something we can pray about.
It’s God’s desire for those of us who follow Jesus to rejoice, pray, and give thanks in all things. We need to remember this the next time we worry about discerning God’s will for our life.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.