Have you discovered God’s will for your life? Such a question goes to the core of our decision making. However, what do we mean by this question? Do we assume God has a personalized plan for everyone? Do we believe God has simply provided godly parameters?
To be sure, scripture is replete with general descriptions of God’s will. For example, God wants his people to live moral and holy lives (1 Thessalonians 4:3). God desires that everyone come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
However, where does the Bible teach God has tailored a personalized plan for each of us? Is it God’s will that we marry Christian A instead of B? Or do we bear the responsibility for making wise decisions as we follow God’s general guidelines for his people?
Without a doubt, a barrage of verses will be unleashed by those who assume my questioning is unfounded. After all, God directed Paul to Macedonia while preventing him from entering Bithynia. Furthermore, do not verses like Proverbs 3:5 and Ephesians 2:10 prove that God has constructed a personalized plan for everyone?
Upon closer examination, each of these arguments melts away.
God did provide specific instructions for prophets, apostles and key individuals at critical junctures regarding God’s kingdom. However, these exceptional cases do not validate the claim that God has formed individualized plans for the rest of his people.
This becomes even clearer when we consider how God communicated his will at those critical times. God revealed his will through prophecy, dreams or visions to those for whom he had specialized plans. God did not use coincidences, or feelings or the type of “evidence” people rely on today for determining God’s personalized will for their life.
Furthermore, to interpret either Proverbs 3:5 or Ephesians 2:10 as supporting an individualized plan exists for each of us requires making some false assumptions.
Consider Proverbs 3:5. To understand this verse teaches us about God’s special plans for our lives involves both ignoring the context of Proverbs and assuming God’s guidance would differ for different people. The language of Proverbs 3:5 fits into the larger contextual theme in Proverbs of walking in God’s counsel for righteous living, rather than depending upon one’s own worldly wisdom
In the case of the good works in Ephesians 2:10, a person must presume these deeds involve such details as evangelize this person not that one, rather than the general principle of being evangelistic. Consider a parallel statement. “Students are a university’s workmanship created for employment that the university intended beforehand for them to achieve.” Such a statement reveals that only the general concepts, not the details, are in view.
This evaluation is brief. However, I have neither found biblical example nor teaching that God has prepared his personalized will for each of our lives. We have liberty to utilize wisdom in making godly decisions. With this freedom comes responsibility. We cannot blame God for our lack of success, as though somehow we misinterpreted his specific will for our life and thus are not being blessed by God.
If we want to live within God’s will, we need to read the Bible, listen and then obey. Wisdom to sort between the good, better and best is still required.
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