“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1ST THESSALONIANS 5:16-18
It’s always fun to boil the word of God down and really focus on words, meaning and application. I’m no Bible scholar but several verses hit me the other day as I was considering and enjoying a blog written recently by my colleague and friend, Steve Adams. Unlike Steve, I’m electing not to split ‘His will’ into three categories, but rather one element – God’s will. These verses, I believe, make no such distinction, and delving into systemic theology isn’t my strong suit. The first verse (above) speaks of three things, and these three things according to Paul, are the will of God for us in Christ Jesus. These three variables, if seen through and done together, are the key to accessing God’s will for us.
- Rejoice always
- Pray continually (without ceasing)
- Give thanks in all circumstances
The striking thing(s) about this verse and these variables is that the list is short, it’s fairly hard to accomplish, and it has little or nothing to do with your daily challenges and circumstances. In fact, we’re to give thanks in ALL circumstances, not just the ones that we benefit from. That’s right, give thanks and NOT get bent out of shape. But this is God’s will for our lives, that we would constantly and consistently rejoice, that prayer would be as natural to us as breathing, and that being thankful even when things aren’t going our way would be the norm.
Here is another verse that can help us understand God’s will from Ephesians 1, the “Identity” chapter.
“In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace,which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” EPHESIANS 1: 4-5
As you can see in the text, according to, or in agreement with God’s pleasure and will, we are Sons/Daughters of His, with grace abounding freely for us because of His love. In other words, it’s well aligned with His will that we believe and act as if we’re God’s own son/daughter and that we accept the gift of grace and love. There are no restrictions to the promise of this passage, not circumstances, time, or anything. It’s simply His will that we’re loved, we have access to His grace, and that we function as children of the Almighty God.
Here is yet another verse, this one from the Gospel of John, about what Jesus came to accomplish, and what He didn’t come to accomplish.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” JOHN 10:10
This verse has to do with two plans, one of destruction and calamity, and one of abundant life. These two plans are completely polar of each other. The former isn’t God’s plan but the enemy’s plan – to steal, kill and destroy. The latter, which Jesus fulfilled on behalf of the Father, is for abundant life. God’s intention for mankind, or His will, was carried out by the physical representation of Himself, Jesus. Jesus illustrated God’s will for people by preaching truth, healing the sick, raising the dead, and casting out demons because these things all had to do with abundant life, and NOT destruction. What was accomplished through Jesus’ life and resurrection is a good indicator as to what God’s will is for us – life to fullest. That doesn’t mean life without challenge or hardship, but it does point to a life filled with His presence and bent toward the perspective and posture of Heaven.
Joe D’Orsie – Communications & Spiritual Life Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org