God’s Will: Discipleship in Three Parts
As I look back at 2018, it seems to have gone by in a flash, but in fact, it contained the same 365 days, and 8760 hours, as each previous year since creation, and just as the servants were given talents to invest for the Master, we too have been given resources. So, how did you invest those 8760 talents? Well, for me, I slept for about 2090 of them, leaving me around 6670 hours to do what I considered to be the best use of my time. To name many of my investments— I worked, drove, ate, talked, taught, listened, thought, vegged, prayed, counseled, called, texted, preached, wrote, shopped, studied, learned, walked, visited, searched the internet, attended performances, played games, attended meetings, shared the gospel, listened to music, watched TV, read the Bible, and went to church.
So, as I look back at how I spent the time God gave me to steward in 2018, I have to ask, “How much of it really counted, how much of it did I manage well?” The answer depends on how much of it I spend doing God’s will. Paul wrote to the Church in Ephesus, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15–17. The bottom line is that God has a will for mankind, He has a will for our nation, our church, and for each of our lives, and He wants us to understand what His will is.
For starters, God wants us to be careful with how we use our hours, He wants us to be wise with our time, and invest our lives according to His desires. So, what does that look like? Paul indicates that the wise follower of Christ understands the will of God, and then does it. So, what is the will of God? Well, there’s God’s particular will for us as individuals, there’s God’s ultimate will for His glory, and there’s God’s general will for all people. Let’s look atGod’s general will for all people. First, God desires—
The Salvation of the Unsaved - Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:3–4 (ESV): This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. We also see this inpassages, such as John 3:16-17, Romans 10:10–13, and Hebrews 7:25. The best part here is that God not only wants to save all people, but He wants to use us in the process (Matthew 28:16–20). It is the will of God that we share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who are going to perish. We can think of leading people to Christ as Discipleship, part 1. God’s will also includes—
The Spiritual Maturity of the Church - 1 Thessalonians 5:14–18 (ESV): And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. We see here that we are to invest in the lives of our brothers and sisters. This is to happen in our relationships with each other, and can look like formal counseling sessions, casual conversations, and everything in between. It is the will of God that, as iron sharpens iron, we helpothers to grow in their relationship with Christ and the Church. Regarding the Great Commission, our call to make disciples, we can think of this as Discipleship, part 2.
So we see here, two aspects of God’s will. First, the salvation of the lost, and second, the growth and maturity of the church. A third is—
That by His Love and Power, He would Equip us and Change Us - Hebrews 13:20–21 (ESV): Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Notice that God equips us, so that we may do the works of His will. It’s important to see that works are only part of God’s will. It’s not just a functional change in us that God wants, He wants to be pleased with us, but even as believers, there are things we are lacking, without which, we will not be pleasing in His sight. This is the fruit of God’s grace in our lives, and as God works His attributes in us, and as He sees Christ in us, we are pleasing in His sight. This is Discipleship, part 3.
So, how did your investments work out in 2018, have you been on God’s discipleship plan? God gave each of us various talents to invest, everything we would need to do His will. He equipped us to share the gospel, to discipleothers, to show love toward one other, to do the works of God. For 2018, God gave us each 8760 hours to invest. We don’t know how many he will give us for 2019, so we better use them wisely. Jesus said We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work, John 9:4.
As we dive into 2019, let’s remember that God’s glory is the point, So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31.