1 Peter 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
The “how” of knowing God’s will is most easily summed up by discussing prayer and reading God’s Word. The “why”, however, is really the more difficult to fathom. It isn’t enough to say “because God says so”. Ultimately, that is enough because He is God and we ought to follow His commands, but the answer doesn’t satisfy us deeply. We want to know why God has something specific in mind for us to do.
God’s purpose in all things is to bring glory to Himself. That, to some, sounds very selfish and gives reason NOT to follow God’s will if He’s just going to be doing whatever He wants for His own attention. They’d say, “If I acted that way, people would think I was completely arrogant and selfish and they’d want nothing to do with me”. Yes, that’s true…but you’re not God. You’re flawed and make all sorts of mistakes. And when you want personal glory, it’s for the wrong reasons and without just cause. God though, God is perfect and holy. He deserves the glory and when He gets it, it’s for the right reasons. It actually benefits us for Him to receive glory, it’s not just selfishness.
In fact, it’s better for us to suffer if it’s God’s will, than to do whatever we want if it’s not. He has the best intentions in mind for us and knows exactly what we need. He’s sovereign, but He’s good. He’s not out to get us like some crazed egomaniac that will stop at nothing to see Himself worshipped. He cares for us and loves us and that’s all considered as He wills certain things to take place.
Why should we do God’s will? Because He knows better than us.
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
What God has called us to do (His revealed will) and His plan for the world (His secret will) are both good. This may seem like it is unnecessarily stated, but to many this is a worry. Sometimes we shy away from seeking the will of God because we think He’ll call us to do something that’s harmful or won’t be for our own benefit. In doing so we miss out on His blessing because His plans for us are for good, not for harm (Jeremiah 29:11). We’re scared to do what God wants because we don’t view Him as good.
But God is good. His intentions are good and His plan is good. All things that take place to fulfill His will are good, whether it seems so at the time or not. It may be painful for a moment in time to go through what God is willing, but ultimately it is for good. With that in mind, it’s much easier to desire God’s will and to want to carry it out. We can remain steady in the knowledge that He’s not out to get us and has a plan that brings about good and it will motivate us to take steps of faith.
If God calls you to something, don’t be afraid. Follow His calling because He knows what the final result will be. He sees what we don’t see and knows what we don’t know. He’s powerful enough to make things happen and good enough that we can trust Him.
Romans 12:11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
When doing good for others, we shouldn’t be doing it out of some sense of obligation or the idea that we’ll gain standing with God if we do good works. The same is true of when we serve the Lord. It should be a joy to serve others if we are really doing it with the right motives.
If we say that we’re serving God, but we complain or grumble about what we’re doing, then we don’t exactly come across as serving out of joy. What message does that send to those who are watching? This doesn’t mean to put on a fake smile either. If you’re serving out of obligation and have no real joy or zeal in doing it; what are you left to do?
Search your heart. Pray that God would convict you where you’re lacking in ferver that He might ignite a fire in you to do good. Study the Scriptures, seek God’s will, lay aside your own pride and approach Him with a humble heart. You’ll find that joy will come as you serve if you do it with the right motivation and with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Have you ever been part of a church that just didn’t feel like it was really living out the purposes of God? When that happens it often starts with a lack in the love department. If Christians can’t love each other, the fellow members of the body of Christ, then there will be no effective ministry.
Paul’s marks of a true Christian reflect not just how a Christian should act, but how Christians should treat each other. These were not instructions on how to treat people “out there”, but how to treat people “in here” first. Practicing the love of God and doing good works starts among family and then it spills out into the rest of our relationships. We must first love and serve our fellow believers.
This is one of the key reasons to belong to a local church fellowship. A church provides the opportunity to love and serve those who share a faith in Christ before going out and doing it among the people of the world. A church is a place to be equipped for ministry, and that starts with love and service from and toward your fellow Christians. Besides that, Christian unity is best perfected within the context of a gathering of believers who make up a family.
Love what is good, hate what is evil, love and serve your Christian brothers and sisters.
Romans 12:9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
What are the marks of a true Christian? We may sometimes wonder how to answer that question, but fortunately for us, the Apostle Paul already did in his letter to the Romans. Paul lays out a criteria for the true Christian. It’s not another set of rules to follow, and it’s not all-inclusive, but it’s worth taking a look at.
It’s no surprise that this outline of a true Christian starts with love. A Christian without love is ineffective and doesn’t present a very good witness. Paul commends his friends in Rome to be genuine in their love, to hate what is evil, and to hold on to what is good. This is good advice, but sadly not what many of us think of when we define the Christian life.
Let love be genuine. In the American church especially there is a tendency to put on a show that isn’t genuine when it comes to love and acceptance. We want people to believe that we care about them even when we don’t. But that’s not Christian love. That’s hypocrisy. Let your love be genuine. Work at it. If you’re struggling with showing someone love, focus on their good points and act out of that.
Hate what is evil. Again, to pick on the American church, we have become very much a part of the culture around us, even in our churches. We embrace the world’s things, even when they contradict the way of God. The only think we’re told to hate as a command is evil and sin. Instead we often love what is evil and hate what is good. That has to change.
Hold on to what is good. Keep focused on the things of God. Love the things that fit His character, follow after the things that please Him. This is the beginning of effective Christian living that presents a witness for Christ that others will want to know more about.