Well, if you want to get the right answers, you first must begin with the right questions. However, we usually start with questions like this:
Where should I go to school?
Where is “the one” I’ve been searching for my whole life?
Where can I be safe during this pandemic?
While those aren’t bad questions, they’re not the right questions to start with, because you can’t expect to discern God’s unrevealed will for your life if you aren’t following His revealed will for Your life. So the questions you want to begin with have to do with the will of God He’s already made known to us in His word.
We shared two of those right questions in a previous post, and in this post we share two more.
All four questions come from Jesus himself (Matthew 6:24-34), so if Jesus is asking the questions, perhaps we ought to answer them.
At least we should if we want to know His will.
Trust in Him Alone
God wants your complete trust. If you want to know God’s will. That’s it.
In spite of this, many Christians in developing cultures attempt to blend the truths of scripture with pagan practices like ancestor worship, idol worship, or even (incredibly) satanic worship. So they put their faith in God and their ancestors, or God and idols. Or God and demons.
From outside looking in, we easily see this unfaithfulness for what it is, but for them these traditions are part of the cultural air they breath. They are so familiar and commonplace, it’s assumed you wouldn’t abandon these pagan practices anymore than you would abandon your family or change your name.
But what if there were a pagan practice so familiar and commonplace in the developed world, you would never think of forsaking it? A pagan practice the modern man wouldn’t consider religious at all, but practical, logical, even respectable.
Well there is such a pagan practice, one popular even back in Jesus day.
Question: Is your faith in God or money?
Jesus calls out this practical, logical, respectable, and pagan practice in His sermon on the mount:
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. – Matthew 6:24 (ESV)
In the past I would read that verse and think, “I don’t love money. I love God! I’m not devoted to money. I’m devoted to my Savior! I don’t serve money. I serve the Lord! However… I do have to make a buck. I mean, you need money to live.”
You get the idea. Probably because you would say the same sort of things.
And I thought this way, because I never really strove to be rich. I didn’t covet my neighbor’s house, or car, or job (very much). I didn’t fantasize about amassing wealth. I’ve only ever wanted as much money as I needed. Enough to cover my bills. Including Netflix.
And then maybe a little more than that.
Like enough to go on a nice vacation. Every year.
Plus enough to save up a 6-month security fund. Just to make Dave Ramsey proud.
And enough to save up a “modest” retirement. Just to make myself proud…. I mean comfortable… I mean practical.
You get the idea. But here’s the clincher: Jesus clarifies in the following verse that…
It is not wanting money that reveals our worship of it. It is worrying about money.
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? – Matthew 6:24-25 (ESV)
PRINCIPLE #3: Every decision is a faith decision.
If our faith is in our finances, then we will worry about our finances, about what we will eat, drink, or wear. Or to put Jesus’ words into today’s context: we will worry about paying the bills.
So be honest! Do you worry about money?
Then, according to Jesus, your faith is in money instead of God. And this misplaced faith will handicap you in discerning and walking in God’s will.
We have to pay our bills to get by in life. We need food and clothing. These may be financial realities, but if we trust in God, we will look to Him as our provider. Our soul provider. See how beautiful Jesus makes this sound:
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.– Matthew 6:26-32 (ESV) [emphasis added]
Oh dear one, how I would urge you not only to read that previous passage over and over again, but to memorize it. For those are words of life from the Life-giver, our Savior, Jesus who can save us from the fear of financial ruin.
God is our provider! This perspective is key if we are going to put our faith in God instead of money.
So how do you renounce this pagan practice of worrying about money?
It will take more than words, but it is doable. And I can say that, because I’ve done it myself! And more than doable, it is wonderful!
Of course, I want to see all my hard work “pay off” in the form of “financial prosperity.” Of course I want people to see me as “financially successful.” However, I have found I much prefer living free from worrying about finances altogether, in spite of not knowing how my needs will be taken care of ahead of time. Because I don’t have to know.
That’s God’s job. He’s my provider.
And He’s yours too! “Look at the birds of the air… consider the lilies of the field!” That’s why part of God’s revealed will for your life is simply this: don’t worry. Particularly don’t worry about money.
God’s not looking for perfect followers, or even good followers. He’s looking for faithful followers; followers who’s own faithful choices are driven by their faith in His provision.
Want to take an important step in breaking free from your faith in money? It’s found in the final one of our four questions to finding God’s will.
Question: Am I seeking first God’s kingdom or my own?
If the truth were told, the reason I have struggled so much with worrying about money throughout my life has had nothing to do with whether I thought God could accomplish what He wanted in my life without money, but whether I’d be able to accomplish what I wanted in my life without money.
Knowing I wasn’t the only person thinking this way, Jesus continued in his sermon on the mount by saying…
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:33-34 (ESV) [emphasis added]
PRINCIPLE #4: Every Decision is a Kingdom Decision
Do you want to know God’s will?
Do you really want to know?
Then you have to retire from the personal-kingdom-building business, and set your heart on building God’s kingdom. And since that kingdom can only be built on the righteousness of God, you’ll also need to stop defending your own perceived righteousness and seek the righteousness that is yours only in Christ.
Seek His Kingdom First
Just like you can’t have two masters, you can’t have two kingdoms either. Either you will seek one and neglect the other, or you will abandon one to build the other.
That said, God’s kingdom is one we can’t see with our eyes. Consequently, His will can be hard to find. But when you set about seeking first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, instead of first defending your own kingdom and your own self-righteousness, you will find God’s will.
Would you like me to be more specific? More concrete?
Are you sure?
Well, I can’t tell you whether God wants you to change your career path, or pursue a certain relationship, or take a vow of solitude (or social isolation) until a covid-19 vaccine is developed, but I can tell you this:
God’s will probably involves surrendering something to Him. Something specific.
Maybe a bad habit, or an addiction, or a grudge, or a fear. Maybe something that would seem good to you, like a hope, or a goal, or a relationship. Something which your desire has turned into an idol.
And then when you know what that something is, ask God for the first step He’d like you to take towards surrendering that thing to you.
Then, my dear one, you will be in God’s will. Because God’s will doesn’t lie somewhere far away in the future. But that’s a topic for another post.
Has this post revealed deep-seated trust issues between you and God? Do you feel like He’s betrayed your trust in the past? You will totally relate to this LoveEd episode from our series featuring the 3 Critical Life Lessons for Relational Success on our FMUniversity YouTube channel.
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.
Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.
Even better? And ask a rock star married couple you respect to lead it!