As I intimated at the end of my last address, it is easier to learn what God’s will is than to do it!
I wrote last time that the Ten Commandments are a foundational source for knowing God’s will. And with each commandment we learn not only what is forbidden to us, but we also learn what is valuable. For instance, in the First Commandment we are forbidden to worship and trust other gods. But what is valuable is the benefit of turning to and trusting the only true source of life and every blessing.
Take another example, in the Fifth Commandment we know that murder is forbidden. But the positive aspect to this commandment is the value of life, and in particular our physical well-being. So God’s will is for me to love my neighbor, and specifically according to this commandment to help him in all his physical needs – his need of food, drink, clothing, and so on.
It is interesting to note the relatively few times the words “will of God” are used in Scripture. In 1 Thessalonians 4 we learn it God’s will that we abstain from sexual immorality. In 1 Thessalonians 5 we learn it is God’s will that we continually pray and give thanks to God. In 1 Timothy 2 we learn our Lord desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
So again, with a little effort we can come to know what God’s will is. But doing it is another matter. It is another matter because in our fallen human nature we prefer to do our own will. And our own will is self-centered. I enjoy looking out for me, myself, and I more than anyone else. And in my own self-interest I am willing to trample right over anyone who gets in my way!
Little wonder our Lord Jesus taught us to pray “Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven.” Without his help, we don’t stand a prayer!
But we have a prayer! Our Lord taught it and promised to hear it. That is some kind of help!
Since You Asked…
What is the meaning of “Lent”?
The English word “Lent” means “springtime”. Lent is the six-week period of spiritual discipline before Easter (40 days not counting Sundays). At an early period in the Church’s history baptisms might only be celebrated once a year at the Easter Vigil Service. Accordingly there was a period prior to this of introducing and training candidates for baptism. In time the training for baptismal candidates grew to a six week period, and this training involved fasting. The 40 days was, no doubt, modeled on the 40 days of our Lord Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness before his temptations by the devil. As the years passed the Lenten fast began to be applied, not only to the baptismal candidates, but to the church as a whole. Church members were encouraged to approach Easter in the same manner in which they had solemnly prepared for their baptisms. That is why the Season of Lent has finally developed as a time for fasting, study, prayer, acts of love, and humility.(with help from The Westminster Dictionary of Worship, edited by J.G. Davies, The Westminster Press.)