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Knowing God's Will and Purpose for Our Lives

Colossians 1:9 "For this reason we also, form the day we heard about you, have not ceased praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding."

So often, when we think of “God’s will,” we ask ourselves the question, “What does God want me to do right now? Should I marry this guy? Should I move to this town?" With sincere motives, we want to live out God’s plan for our lives.

While I think it is important that we pursue obedience to God plan for our lives (and it’s vital to our own joy and happiness), Paul’s point in Colossians 1:9 at the beginning of this post is to seek to understand God's overarching purposes rather than His specific plan.

In verse 9 above, Paul prays that the Colossian believers would grow in the knowledge of God's "will". The word Paul uses for “will” is the Greek word thelamatos. Louw and Nida’s excellent Greek dictionary explains that thelamotos means “intended” or “purpose.” This is not the typical way many believers think of God's will. When lots of people read about “God’s will” they have a knee jerk reaction that may not always be warranted. Thelema (the word for will in 1:9) speaks to the "purpose" of something. There's another Greek word, boulomai, that speaks to the "plan" of something. Boulomai is the word for “will” in the sense of God’s intentions and plans and directives. Since Paul uses thelema rather than boulomai, his prayer is that the Colossian beleivers might grow in understanding God's intentions and purposes for their lives.

So often, Christians get off track because they are not living according to God’s intentions or purposes but rather for their own. They might do Christian stuff, but for the wrong reasons. And since their motives are misdirected, when they do not find what they are looking for, then walk away confused, discouraged or even bitter. This tragic result stems from being focused on doing the wrong things or with the wrong reasons. The Lord never promised to blessed everything we do (even if the stuff we do "for" Him) just those things that conform to His purposes and plan. Until we understand this, we will be spinning our spiritual wheels.

Two clear examples come immediately to mind:

First, it is common for people to come to God in order to fill their heart with peace. This is understandable; life is hard and they want reduction in the pressure. So they come to God and pursue Him for the purpose of gaining inner peace. The problem with this is that God is not a spiritual genie here to grant our "three wishes." Rather, He is our Lord. God’s purposes in our life is for us to live in fellowship with Him and submission to Him—and only as we are rightly aligned with Him, will we find true, lasting, enduring peace. When a person elevates peace to the ultimate purpose of living for Christ, they have gotten the cart before the horse.

Another example of misunderstanding God’s purposes is in the case of why many people come to church. So often, people come to be inspired or motivated or touched. Again, if we are right with God and in fellowship with Him, we will be inspired and motivated at the clear teaching of His word. But that is not why we come to church. We come to worship and serve Him. That is the primary purpose. Personal inspiration is way down the ladder.

What is most tragic about these two examples is that when people replace God’s true purposes with their own misguided purposes, the net result is usually that they don’t find what they were seeking. They come to church and don’t feel inspired, they follow God and don’t feel peace. They came to God with the wrong purpose and end up not finding the blessings they sought. Tragically, if they had just surrendered to God’s purposes, they would have received these blessings and so many more.

Paul’s prayer for the Colossians is a worthy prayer for us all: that with ever-growing spiritual wisdom and understanding, we might live according to God’s purposes for our lives—that our walk might be worthy of Him, that we would see the fruit of His Spirit in our lives, strengthened with His strength, filled with His joy—and these come as we surrender to God’s purposes for our lives.
Last modified on Thursday, 04 August 2011 13:08
Russ Brewer

Russ Brewer

Rescued from the domain of darkness, transferred to the kingdom of the Son. Undershepherd of Grace. Husband of Corinne. Father of three. Chew-toy to Zeke...