Saturday, February 16, 2008

Decision-making and the Will of God, pt. 5

Here's the fifth question (see previous posts) that Sinclair Ferguson encourages Christians to ask as they are seeking to please God in their decision-making:

5. Is it Helpful to Others?

When we move further on in the First Letter to Corinth, we find Paul asks similar questions of a different situation - an indication that we are on the right track when we assume that these questions have a wide and valuable application to many areas of our thinking. But he added others.

I must not rest content with asking whether a course of action will be personally helpful. Will it have a like beneficial effect on others? Indeed, do I engage in it with a view to serving and helping them? Or, am I in danger of "destroying the work of God"? [Rom 14:20] When speaking of the Christian's personal freedom, and the way it must be balanced over against the weakness and strengths of others, Paul confesses: "I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good, but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example . . ." [1 Cor 10:33].

Jesus lived by this principle. When he summarized his commitment in his great prayer to the Father, he said: "I am sanctifying myself for their sakes" [John 17:19]. We should be concerned to help and please others. Paul affirms, "For even Christ did not please himself" [Rom 15:3]. Does this not drive home to us the fact that the will of God (and therefore his guidance) is the most demanding thing in the world? does it not pierce to the dividing place in our lives between soul and spirit? [Heb 4:12] For we are often concerned with guidance in order that our lives may be freed from anxiety and uncertainty - so that we may have a measure of personal comfort and security. God, on the other hand, is concerned that we should be cast upon Him to do His will, whatever the enduring cost. The will of God is shaped in the image of His Son's Cross. The will of God means death to our own will, and resurrection only when we have died to all our own plans.

Did we really appreciate that this was what we were letting ourselves in for when we said that we wanted guidance?

(This material is an adaptation of content from the book, "Discovering God's Will" by Sinclair Ferguson, published by Banner of Truth)

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