When most evangelicals think of discerning God’s will, by default they usually think of understanding whom they should marry. And in some respects, they very well should have marriage in mind. Choosing a spouse holds powerful ramifications, particularly because most Christian marriages produce children. Those children, in turn, will produce children and grandchildren, affecting the planet for generations to come. So yeah, we must seek God’s will in selecting a spouse.
And I fully intend to write a blog post exclusively on that topic in the near future.
In order to address that specific topic, however, I believe we must first get used to understanding God’s will in a much broader context. Knowing general principles of God’s will enables us to discern the finer points of godly decision making. Jumping ahead to those finer points before learning the basics causes us to resort to mystical practices like contemplative prayer and expecting personal revelation.
Scripture has several passages that clearly outline the Lord’s will for believers. For example, look at 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 with me.
12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. (ESV)
Notice verse 18, which comments that behaving in the manner outlined here “is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Until we understand and begin to apply those fundamental aspects of Christian living, I’m not so sure we should expect to discern whom the Lord wants us to marry.
The Holy Spirit, speaking through Scripture, clearly reveals God’s overarching will for Christians. Yet very few of us (if any) obey even those broad guidelines. I know I don’t. And it seems to me that, as important as marriage is, the Lord cares more about His people implementing the things He has already told us about His will.
Discernment isn’t always as glamorous as we make it out to be. Most of the time, it involves applying passages like 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 to everyday situations. Interestingly, such applications might even help us choose godly husbands.