Should You Choose the Best Option?
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Do you know what God’s will is for you over the next 24 hours?
There are many good options. Are any of them okay? Or does God want you to discover the best possible use of your time? Jesus taught us to pray for God’s will to be done on earth (Mt.6:10). How do you discover his will at any given moment?
Should you pray and “listen” for a prompting from the Spirit? Should you use wisdom to figure out the best of all possible options? Exactly what does God expect from you?
When we look for the one best course of action—the one person in this world we should marry, the best educational track, the ideal job, that one path out of a million that is God’s will—that approach to life reflects a misunderstanding of our role in the world.
What Does God Want from Mankind?
God told us humanity’s role when he created mankind.
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule …”
Our task is to rule. We are to be co-regents with God in reigning over his creation. That’s why we were created, and it’s the goal toward which all history is moving.
2 Timothy 2:12 If we endure, we will also reign with him.
It’s the goal of Christ’s work of redemption.
Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
We are God’s servants, to be sure. But that’s not all we are. God also wants us to function as kings, co-ruling with him over his world.
Is Seeking the Best Option Misguided?
If we were only slaves, God might have simply said, “I’ll just tell you what I want you to do every moment.” (Actually, that might be more the role of a robot than a slave. Even slaves have some discretion in how they do things.)
So what does it look like to be a slave/king?
As God’s servants (and his children), we strive to make sure everything we do is pleasing to God. As kings, God wants us to make choices. Each moment, he wants you to look at the countless ways you could please him and pick one. Which one? Your choice.
In Acts 5, when people were selling their property and donating the money to the church, was God pleased? For those with good motives, yes, God was pleased. But does that mean God expected everyone to do it? No.
When Ananias sold his land and then lied about how much of the proceeds he donated, he was punished for lying. But before his punishment, Peter made an interesting remark.
Acts 5:4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?
Literally, it’s “Wasn’t the money under your authority?” God, who owns everything, delegated the decision-making about that parcel of land and the money that came from it to Ananias. He didn’t have to donate it. He had the freedom to choose whatever he wanted.
How to Use Your Freedom
That’s not to say he was free to do something evil with it. Our freedom lies squarely inside the boundaries of that which is pleasing to God. Our freedom is not license to dabble in evil or even permission to wander close to the line. But it is freedom to choose among countless good options.
Suppose you have three children that you’re homeschooling. You take a break, and your oldest daughter goes over to the neighbor’s house and tells a friend about Jesus. Your son uses that time to clean his room—and his brother’s room. Your other son just hangs out with you and you have a great conversation with him because he shares his heart in a really honest way.
Are you displeased with any of them because they didn’t choose the best possible thing to do with their break? No. You’re pleased with all three because they all did something good.
And as a parent, isn’t the scenario I described better than if all three kids just asked you exactly what you wanted them to do during the break? Part of what made their choices pleasing to you was the fact that they chose them.
God Likes Variety
The night before his death, Jesus praised Mary for her extravagant act of faith and worship when she anointed him with perfume worth a year’s wages (Mk.14:3-9). What she did was wonderful and extremely pleasing to God.
But does that mean everyone should have done it? Should all the believers in Jerusalem have lined up to anoint Jesus with expensive perfume? No. Jesus never commanded that, nor did he rebuke anyone for not doing it.
When he commended Mary, he said, “She did what she could.” Implication—you should do what you can. Maybe you don’t have any expensive perfume. Maybe it doesn’t occur to you to anoint Jesus’ body for burial. That’s fine. You don’t have to do what Mary did. God wants you to express your love and trust in him in your way. You’re not Mary. And if you try to be Mary, it won’t come off well. Just do something, anything, that’s pleasing to God.
Does God expect you to pick the very best possible way of honoring him? I don’t think so. First, only God knows what the best possible option is at any given moment. And God doesn’t reveal that to us because he wants us to function as kings, not mere robots.
Second, if everyone picked the one best action, that wouldn’t be best because God clearly likes variety.
Which plant is best? You could make an argument for, say, the oak tree. I think it’s clearly more impressive, useful, and reflective of God’s glory than, say, a reed in a marsh. So if oaks are the best, why didn’t God make every plant in the world an oak tree? That wouldn’t be as good as the variety of vegetation God created. Some plants are better, others inferior, but the world as a whole is more marvelous with the variety.
Be an Artist with Your Day
When you make decisions, instead of trying to figure out the best possible option, think of each of your days as a work of art. When Mozart completed his Symphony 41, was it a bad day because it wasn’t Beethoven’s 5th? You might argue one is better than the other, but no one would wish both men had written the best one, leaving the other unwritten.
God made you a little king in his world, delegated authority over your possessions, money, skills, creativity, and ability, and he wants you to produce a work of art.
This is why when the Bible speaks of God’s will, instead of listing specific actions, we’re given moral principles. It’s God’s will for you to be holy (1 Thes.4:3), to do good (1 Pe.2:15), to be thankful (1 Thes.5:18), and to support missionaries (2 Cor.8:5). Everything the Bible presents as pleasing to God is the canvas of his will. On that canvas, he commissions us to paint our own masterpiece. We can paint whatever we want, so long as we stay on the canvas. God doesn’t want the same painting from everyone. Some may paint better than others, but to each of his children who remains on the canvas, he says, “Well done!” and is pleased.
What does God want you to do right now? Something good. Something righteous. Does he want you to try to figure out from him which good thing? Maybe sometimes, but most of the time, he wants you to just be a creative being and choose something.
If you think of God’s will in terms of one specific course of action, chances are pretty high you would miss it. You might do any number of righteous actions, but still miss the one action God wanted you to take. But if you look at God’s will the way Scripture speaks of it, then all you have to do at any given moment is to ask, “What is one thing I could do right now that would be pleasing to God?” Whatever you think of, it’s fair game. If you’re pleasing God, you’re definitely in the center of his will.
Asking that question will bring a host of benefits. Especially in times of temptation. What is one thing I could do right now that would be pleasing to God? Whatever you think of, big or small, do it, and you’ll find your heart gravitating toward God instead of away from him. And temptation will lose its power. Why not give it a try right now?
So today, enjoy your freedom. Serve the Lord, and reign with him as a king.