“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” --1 Thessalonians 5:18
“For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” —1 Peter 2:15
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality” --1 Thessalonians 4:3
I have an uneasy relationship with grandparents; it’s awkward between me and my actual grandparents for various reasons. But in the church I grew up in, an older lady and an older man each took me under their wing, and I came to see them as grandparents. They have both since passed away, and because I wasn’t part of their legal or blood family, I wasn’t included in their wills.
That led me to think about what a will means. Legally, a will refers to what a recently-deceased person wants to happen in the world, usually around the things they had autonomy over: assets, money, family drama, and the like. This reminded me of God’s will. This will refers to what God wants to happen to His world, and God has autonomy over all things; He holds the whole world in His hands after all.
Many people who are a part of the Church will go on and on about doing God’s will or staying in God’s will or even just knowing God’s will. No one ever defines it. It stays as this nebulous concept in the back of people’s minds. We go through life, making decisions, avoiding other decisions, and stepping around on this invisible roadmap we have made for ourselves, hoping that it fits in the “will of God”.
That all changes today.
In the above verses, God clearly and distinctly tells the Church what He wants to see done in the world. If you were ever wondering what the will of God is, this is it: give thanks, do good, and be sanctified.
Now, these aren’t the only things that are in the will of God, but they’re a good start. If you look closely, whenever God asks something from us, He always has a reason. The verse doesn’t say why God wants us to be grateful, but it’s pretty safe to assume that the God of the universe has a good reason for us to say thanks. He wants us to do good so foolish people can be silenced, and His Word can shine through. He wants to be set apart from others, so that our sexual lives glorify Him and how He has designed the world.
When we think about doing His will, just know that God isn’t asking for obscure things from us; He wants us to look at what He is doing and imitate that. The Bible is such a powerful way to see the story and Word of God. Daily time in His Word allows us to see what God has done in the past and is still doing in our lives today.
Sometime this week, take a couple of minutes and look at all these verses in context. Be reminded of what God wants for us. He doesn’t just want us to do all the right things. He wants us to be righteous through Jesus and act righteously through the Holy Spirit. He wants us to love Him and to love others (Hint: these are the two greatest commandments).
When people set up a will, they list the things they desire to happen in the world after they die. Whether or not these things happen is not up to the deceased. They’re dead. In Jesus’ will, He said “not my will, but [the Father’s] be done”. And we know that His will is going to be carried out because Jesus didn’t stay dead. Instead He took it upon Himself to help us make sure that we have the power to be grateful, do good, and be sanctified. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help us do the Father’s will after His resurrection and departure. So not only did God give us a will that we can clearly see through the aforementioned verses as well as Jesus’ entire life, but He also gave us help through the Holy Spirit to actually do it. So be encouraged today and follow His living will.
—Jorge Villapier works as a University Ministry Assistant for Bellefield Presbyterian Church.