Is God’s Will for my life more like a map or a path?
Let’s start in the book of Proverbs written by King Solomon all those years ago…
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
This verse sounds like when we trust God He directs our paths.
He shows us which path to take in any given moment – whether it’s choosing a college, a spouse, or what to eat for lunch…he shall direct our paths.
When the NIV translator committee was working on this piece of Proverbs, the scholars in the committee made a discovery. Proverbs was written by King Solomon, King David’s son, and it was written in Hebrew. They discovered that the Hebrew wording didn’t support our notion of God directing our paths. Instead, the wording more precisely translated to
…and he will make your paths straight.
Isn’t that an interesting shift in the word order? Church family, I believe that Proverbs 3 is not teaching us that there’s a path of dots that you had better get on or your life is going to be a disaster or that we will head off the ‘path’.
What I believe these verses are teaching us is that if you…
- trust in God with your whole heart
- don’t lean on your own understanding
- and acknowledge God in every decision you make…
He will make your paths straight.
This is a seismic shift in our understanding of what God’s will is and how we make decisions. So, if we trust God with our whole heart (when we are making decisions), and when we don’t lean on our own understanding (when we are making decisions) and when we acknowledge God (when we are making decisions) …
He will your paths straight.
Consider what Paul tells us in Romans…
Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
In this passage, as we have discussed, Paul shifts from doctrinal teaching about the gospel of Jesus Christ in chapters 1-11 to explaining how we practically put that gospel in our daily lives. We come to Romans chapter twelve and these two verses that are our theme verses are a theological transition. He actually defines the very will of God this way: Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice and to be transformed by the renewal of your mind.
God’s will is about the kind of person you are.
What are your values? What are your priorities? Are your values yours or His? Are your priorities yours or His?
What are the implications of taking our decision-making role seriously? We’re not just trying to guess what God wants us to choose in every situation – that would be impossible, anyways. Instead, we’re actually exercising a God-given responsibility to live our lives in according to His values and His priorities.
How are you handling that responsibility? How did you handle that responsibility today? How about last week?
How do we assess what your values or priorities are?
We look at how you spend your time.
We look at how you spend your money.
We look at how you spend your energy.
How do we assess what His value and priorities are?
Well, since the will of God is the word of God.
We go back to the Word of God and hear His voice and we discover His values and His priorities.
What the Scripture is clear about is absolutely clear.
And as your pastor, I would encourage you to begin reading the Bible to get God’s voice in your lie and when you come up to something that points to something absolutely clear about God’s values and priorities…
Trust Him with all your heart
Don’t lean into your own understanding
And move forward in obedience to God.
Within the boundaries given by God in His Word, we find structure, direction, protection and freedom.
Is God’s will more like a map or a path?
It’s kind of like the question: how many of each animal did Moses take on the ark? It’s a trick question from the beginning. So, is it a map or path? Yes.
Sometimes it will be just like a map – giving you an idea of where you are and showing you where God’s will is.
Sometimes it will be just like a path – giving you crystal clear guidelines on where you should go.
The real question is – are you willing to take the time to embrace the map and path God has given you?