William Wilberforce said, “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” He said this when confronting people who considered themselves moral, even Christians, while they were actively or passively condoning the slave trade.
The same principle applies to the teachings of Jesus. When we read His Word, listen to it taught, study it — then we are exposed. As Wilberforce admonished, we may choose to look the other way, but only some of us can say we didn’t know. We know. There’s just a disconnect between knowing and doing sometimes. But that disconnect is the way of foolishness. The way of wisdom is to internalize the message and then act on it. Jesus said: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27) To build “on the rock” means to be a hearing, responding disciple. Practicing obedience becomes the solid foundation to weather the storms in life.
We are blessed that our omniscient and mighty Father is willing to make His way known to us. He wants to reveal exactly what to do in every situation. In fact, He promises this: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” (Ps. 32:8). Let’s explore how to discern God’s will at each crossroad of life.
The first step is to make sure that we have repented of all sin. Listening to God while holding onto iniquity in our heart is like using a foggy and unreadable compass. After confessing and repenting, we can ask for direction.
Next, we should read Scripture regularly with a seeking, open heart. The Bible is like a lamp on a dark path (Ps. 119:105). The last step involves God’s indwelling Holy Spirit—the wonderful gift that the heavenly Father has given each of His children. The Spirit provides truth and guidance as we read the Word and pray. We should listen patiently for His leading, which is often communicated quietly to our hearts as we spend time with Him.
When asking the Lord to reveal His will, we shouldn’t expect instant answers. The discipline of waiting builds character, and besides, rushing the process may lead to a path that misses God’s best. Take the time to seek Jesus’ plan for your life, remembering He’ll provide all you need to follow Him. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14-15)