We begin so many of our days wondering what we are going to do today, tomorrow, this weekend, and with the rest of our lives. It is a natural curiosity of humanity. It is also often a source of confusion and angst for many of us. God not only has an opinion on the matter, but a clear command. What does God want me to do?
First, let us clarify that we are human beings, not human doings. Our actions flow from who we are. God is foremost concerned with our relationship to Him through Jesus Christ. If you are not yet a child of His through faith in Jesus (John 1:12; 3:16–18; Ephesians 2:8–9), that is the first thing that God wants. After we have become children of God, it is appropriate and right for us to ask questions like What does God want me to do?How can I glorify Him today?What is God's will for this situation in my life?
How can we know what God wants? During the life of Jesus there were ruling classes of teachers who guided the day-to-day thinking and activities of the people of Israel. One of them asked Jesus a question, "'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?' And he [Jesus] said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets'" (Matthew 22:36–40). Love God; love others. This is what God wants us to do.
A few hundred years earlier the people of Israel were asking similar questions. They were lamenting, trying to figure out how to please God or at least appease Him. They were asking deep questions of their identity and their relationship with God. They asked the question because they needed the answer. God, through the prophet Micah, in the middle of a rebuke of the behavior of the nation of Israel tells them and us what He wants. God does not want our deeds, our sacrificial offerings, gifts, or the good efforts of our work (Micah 6:6–7). God wants our hearts. "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8).
We don't have to have all the answers, which grants us freedom in asking questions. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 3:3–15; 4:30; 10:1–9), raised numerous questions in the book of Ecclesiastes. He answered most, but not all, and offered a final conclusion about life, that we should "fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). To fear God is not to be afraid of God but to have great respect, reverence for Him. It is to approach Him like the King that He is (Ecclesiastes 5:1), but also to believe that He is a loving father (1 John 4:7–18; Luke 15). And as King and loving father God desires that we act justly, kindly, and humbly when we are with Him and with those who are made in His image (Genesis 1:27). What does God want me to do? God invites us to love Him and love others.
How do we do this? How do we love God and others? We should imitate Jesus' humility and follow His teachings. Philippians 2:6–8 says that Jesus, "though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:6–8). Paul, the author of this letter to the church in Philippi helps us to understand the implications of this humility; we should not be selfish but consider others more worthy than ourselves, and to serve them gladly (Philippians 2:3–4).
In humility we should be like Jesus, loving God the Father and loving people. Well, what does it mean to love God and love my neighbors? The pinnacle of Jesus' teaching while He was physically here on earth is found in the New Testament book of Matthew, chapters 5—7, and is often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. In this series of teachings Jesus instructs us on how to pray to God (Matthew 6:6–14; 7:7–11), provides the rules of life according to God's design in The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3–12), explains what the Old Testament law means to us today (Matthew 5:21–48), directs our Christian charity (Matthew 6:1–4), and more! He teaches us about divorce and lust and anger and worry. Jesus does not hold back. He teaches us what we need to know so we can live according to the will of God, living in freedom for "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1, NIV).
The New Testament gives us clear instructions and helpful guidance when we are wondering What does God want me to do? It tells us about sharing the good news of salvation and making disciples of Christ (Matthew 28:18–20; 1 Peter 3:15). We are to submit to those in positions of earthly authority (Romans 13:1–7; 1 Peter 2:13–14) and live honorable lives (1 Peter 2:12–17). Galatians 6:10 says, "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." First Timothy 2:1–2 tells us to pray for all people, including our leaders. The New Testament is filled with practical instructions regarding specific things God wants us to do. It also reminds us that by God's grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, we become children of God (John 1:12) who are indwelled by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:3–14). Because of our identity in Christ—who we are—we act in specific ways. God wants us to do things that bring Him glory, which, incidentally, is also ultimately life-giving for us (John 15:1–11; Philippians 2:12–13; Romans 12:1–2; 1 Corinthians 10:31). As alluded to previously, we don't do things in order to gain God's favor or pleasure; rather, we do what He wants us to do because we know Him and love Him (Ephesians 2:8–10; John 14:15). God equips us to do the things He wants us to do (2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 1:6; 2:13).
So how can we answer the question What does God want me to do? In your day-to-day living, talk to God regularly, get to know Him more and more by reading the Bible and listening to what He is saying to you. Commit yourself to becoming a follower of Jesus (Matthew 4:19), dropping the false gods this world has to offer and instead setting your mind and heart toward discovering who Jesus is and becoming more and more like Him every day (Romans 12:1–2; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Read God's Word and obey it, relying on His Holy Spirit to help you.
When you wonder about what school to go to, career to pursue, where to live, what church to be a part of or any of the thousands of life changing decisions we are confronted with in our lives, take comfort in knowing that the Holy Spirit guides Christians. Jesus says of Him, "the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:26).
What does God want me to do? Go, in freedom, and live your life, helped by the Holy Spirit, obeying the teachings of Jesus, with great reverence for who God is and what He does, and then go and love others. In doing so you will, by the grace of God, live a life marked by "the fruit of the Spirit [which] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22–23).
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