“Do not love the world not the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life,
is not from the Father, but is from the world.
The world is passing away, and also its lusts;
but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ,
keep seeking the things above,
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set you mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
1 John 2:15-17 and Colossians 3:1-2
So the question is “How?” How do we set our minds on the things of God and not on the things of this earth when needs have to be met, careers have to be worked out, children have to be raised, etc… the key is in 1 John 2:17 – “…but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” So what is the will of God and how do I discern it? First, we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us and teach us and illuminate the Scriptures for us. Then we spend time studying the Word of God, seeking for His moral will. God’s will can be broken down into two categories. God’s moral will and God’s individual will. The moral will is universal and laid down in Scripture for us all. The individual will is the plan and purpose that God has for each of our lives individually.
Jesus tells us in John that when we follow His commandments (moral will) then we will find joy. He goes on to explain that we must abide in the word, in Him, and in God in order to follow those commandments. In other words, He knows that we cannot be perfect and that we can only follow the commands through the power given to us by the Holy Spirit. We tap into that power through the relationship with God. As we walk in the moral will of God, seek a relationship with God through prayer and praise, then God leads us to His individual will for our lives. He usually does this one step at a time. I love lists. I wish God would just write it down, hand it to me and let me check off the boxes. But lists do not require a relationship! I must walk closely with God to discern His will for me.
Sometimes, God has hit me over the head with a two-by-four (not literally), by someone speaking or by something I am reading. These times stand out as real life changers. One Christmas, as I was wrestling with my relationship with God as my Father and what that looked like, I was sent to my knees in praise and adoration through the song, “Little Drummer Boy” while at a Christmas program. Another time, God led me to accept His direction of moving to another state through a book that I was reading. Still other times, I clearly heard God’s voice in my heart telling me to let something go and to trust Him. He often uses Scripture that I have memorized to remind me of His sufficiency and to lead me to an action. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
When we are abiding with Christ and studying His word, then God can speak to us, and we can know the direction that He is leading. If it is still unclear, we have learned to keep doing what we are doing until we know that God is calling us to change direction. My husband gives the illustration that it is easier to change direction of a moving vehicle than the direction of one sitting still. So, we keep moving, doing what we feel God has called us to and knowing that He is able to get our attention and lead us in a different direction at His bidding. Think of Abraham, Joseph, Paul, and others. They were not on their knees begging for God to reveal His will. No, they were living life the best they knew how (even Paul/Saul was killing Christians thinking that he was pleasing God.) God was able to get their attention when He had a purpose for them to change direction. So, live according to the moral word of God (confessing and accepting total forgiveness when you mess up). Seek a right relationship with God – be growing and becoming holy before God, and He will let you know what He wants you to do.
It is easy to look at the world, and other people, and to desire what is of this world, but God says to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and He will provide all that you need. This has been so true for us throughout our lives. My husband and I just celebrated our 29thanniversary. We spent time remembering God’s awesome guidance in our lives; the growth in areas of relationship with God; our growth in the fruit of the Spirit; and the wonderful adventures that we have had following Him.
Success for the Christian is not a big house, money, greatness, or fame, but rather success for a Christian is obedience to the will of God both morally and individually. And in obedience is joy and peace and hope.