We tend to think following God and knowing his will is complicated. But then, we like to complicate things. Perhaps we feel smarter when we understand complex concepts. Or maybe tackling difficult jobs increases our feeling of accomplishment.
But the Gospel is straight-forward. And simple enough that even children can understand it. Both Christ and his teachings were simple and practical. But because we complicate them, we tend to think, “How can I truly follow him? Or know what his will for me is?”
But knowing God’s will and purpose for our life, though not easy to put into practice, is much simpler than we make it.
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).
“That’s all God wants from us?” we ask.
And thinking that’s too simple, we add to it. Pray a certain length of time daily. Read 10 chapters. Attend every church service. Tithe. And never, ever get angry. Thinking that this will make us pleasing to the Lord.
And these things are all good. But we risk thinking that to please God we’ve got to become good enough. “If I’m good enough, surely God will speak, and show me his will.”
Micah 6:8 is one of my favorite Scriptures. But Micah presents a sad story.
Can I forget any longer the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is accursed? Shall I acquit the man with wicked scales and with a bag of deceitful weights? Your rich men are full of violence; your inhabitants speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth, (Micah 6:10-12).
God was speaking to the Israelites here. HIS PEOPLE, who already knew right from wrong. They knew God’s will — what he wanted — but chose not to do it. Yet, they continued their religious life. Going to the temple, praying, and offering sacrifices. They taught, they preached. And on the surface it seems they tried to know God’s will. Micah relates that they asked their so-called prophets, “Tell us what God is saying.”
They were going through the right motions, while failing to obey.
God did speak, revealing his will through Micah and his contemporaries: Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea. But the people didn’t listen. They were too busy with their own religiosity. All the while living evil lives.
But evil is not the only thing which can hinder us from knowing God’s will and following him.
Just like the Israelites, we get busy with our religiosity. Keeping lists of dos and don’ts. Trying to earn our salvation by being good enough. Or even serving God in ways that he never asked.
We’d love to learn deeper things, but we skip the basics. We’d like to discover God’s will for our lives, jobs, and marriages. For how we should serve him. How to get more from our time in the Word, and our times of prayer.
But almost always, in God’s dealings with his people, he called them back to basics. Back to his Word and his ways. And he still gives that call today. “You have my Word, but neglect it. And you don’t really put into practice the things you already know,” he says. “So how can I teach you more?”
We want to launch out into the deep, when we haven’t even learned to wade.
So if you want to know God’s will, first put into practice what you already know. Then spend time in his Word, learning to hear his voice, and understand his heart. The Gospel is simple. And so is following God. But it’s never easy. For true discipleship costs all.
We already know the basics — doing justice, loving mercy, and obeying what we already know. And if we start with them, more understanding will come!
It is not hard to hear a voice you know so well. Or to obey a heart so tied to yours.
[Image: ocean pier in Virginia USA ©TheScorziellos]