God’s Will on Two Levels


Bible Reading: Proverbs 3:1-6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:6

CARLOS WALKS into his pastor’s office feeling a little nervous. But Pastor Keene tries to put him at ease. “Welcome, Carlos, I’m glad you came. Please sit down. How can I help you?”

Carlos gets right to the point. “I’m confused about where God wants me to go to college. How am I supposed to find out what he wants me to do?”

“Well, let me start by asking you a few questions,” the pastor begins. “Have you trusted Christ as your Savior?”

“Yes sir, four years ago at church summer camp.”

“Good. Are you obeying your parents?”

“Well, er, yeah-most of the time, Pastor,” Carlos says, “but that isn’t what I came here to talk about. I want to find God’s will for my education.”

“I understand, Carlos,” the pastor says patiently, “but I want to know if you’re already following God’s will. If you’re not committed to obeying God’s will in the obvious, right-here-right-now decisions of life, there’s no point looking for what he wants about college.”

When you want to find God’s will for your life, you have to look for it at two dis­tinct levels. The first is God’s will for everyone-what some people call God’s univer­sal will. The second is God’s will for each individual-his specific will. Here’s the problem: A lot of people try to know God’s specific will for their individual lives, all the while ignoring God’s universal will.

God’s universal will is the clear, unmistakable will for all people you find in the Bible. You know from Scripture, for example, that God’s will is for everyone to trust Christ for salvation. Or think about 1 Thessalonians 5: 17, which says, “Pray continu­ally” (NIV). You can be sure it’s God’s will that everyone grow in a consistent attitude of prayer and closeness with him. God makes other pieces of his universal will equally clear-like loving God and people, obeying parents, sharing your faith with others, remaining sexually pure, etc. You will have a hard time finding God’s specific will about things like marriage, college, and career if you waffle on obeying God’s universal will.

That doesn’t mean you have to be perfectly obedient before God will show you his specific will. Nobody is. But when you set your heart on obeying God’s will for everybody in Scripture, you are in the right place to find God’s will for your own future.

REFLECT: Answer this question in your own words: Why does God want you to be doing his universal will before he shows you his specific will?

PRAY: Talk to God about your desire to do his will.

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