The Apostle Paul has assured us that when we come to a correct understanding of God and His ways, we will have the riches of assured understanding (Col. 2:1-4). When we don’t get our theology right, we will reap confusion, and confusion will produce anxiety, instability and insecurity.
Our understanding of the workings of the Spirit provides a good example. While we believe that God’s children are led by the Spirit (Romans 8:9; Psalm 23:1-3) and can know His will (Rom. 12:2), we remain confused about this process. Consequently, we second guess ourselves, wondering whether we have correctly discerned the Spirit’s leading in our lives.
We correctly understand that we can discern His will in Scripture as we put it into practice:
· Anyone who lives on milk [of the Scriptures alone], being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13-14)
However, even if we are exercised in the meat of the Scriptures, we are still dazed by many decisions:
1. Who should I marry?
2. What job should I pursue?
3. How much money should I give?
4. How much should spend on myself?
These decisions can be maddening, and even once we make them, we continue to torment ourselves about whether we’ve made the right decision.
In our distress, we might even resort to trying to interpret our dreams, experiences, or even the facial expressions of others to determine God’s will.
However, much of our anxiety is the result of not bringing the character of God into our equation. God reigns over our lives and our smallest, most petty decisions. Jesus explained:
· Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:28-30)
It is not simply that God knows the number of hairs on our heads; He’s actually determined them! He’s in control of our lives – our words, works, and decisions:
· For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephes. 2:10)
Consequently, Paul confessed that he couldn’t even take credit for his hard work:
· But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (1 Cor. 15:10)
Our Lord gets all the credit, because all good things come from Him (James 1:17), even our efforts and decisions. Therefore, “I am what I am” because of God. This means that He is capable of guiding me even when I fail to discern His guiding hand:
· Proverbs 20:24 A man's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?
· Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.
The Bible is overflowing with accounts of God directing unsuspecting kings to do exactly what He had wanted and when He had wanted. If He can do this with rebellious kings, He can certainly do this with His anxious children!
God is sovereign, and it’s essential to know this. When we fail to understand that He has a glorious plan for our lives (Psalm 139:16), we obsess on ourselves and our decisions. However, when we know that He is in control and that He loves us, we can settle into His protective arms, even as we suffer, even when we know we’ve made a bad decision.
I’ve made some foolish decisions and have been humbled as a result, but I’m now assured that He works even these together for my ultimate good (Rom. 8:28). What a blessing it is to know Him!