“For this is God’s will, your sanctification.” I Thessalonians 4:3a
Are you a glass half-empty person and or a glass half-full person? It’s all in the perspective of how we view life. To a degree, our personalities can be attributed for some of this, but also our life experiences have informed which perspective we prefer. I am a firm believer that God is intricately involved in the details of my life (see Psalm 139:1-5 to learn just how close God is to you!). Thus, having this certainty, I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason. Nothing is left to chance. For nearly 20 years, I have kept journals. Some are prayer journals and others are recordings of the events of my life. Recently, I have spent time perusing these journals, and it has highlighted to me the commonalities of my younger self with who I am today. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was said to have been “treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them” (Luke 2:19). That’s how I feel about journaling–my own modern version of treasuring these things in my heart. One common thread I have read throughout the journals was this feeling that God was preparing me for something as I sought to learn His will for my life. I love going back through various seasons in my life and seeing what God was teaching me through each one. All the while, knowing in my heart along the way, that God had a purpose in each one and that purpose would surely lead me to His will for my life. When asked what my greatest fear is, without question, my response is that I fear I will have lived my entire life and not have fulfilled God’s will and purpose for my life, that I have somehow missed it.
Recently, the Holy Spirit has faithfully been adjusting my lenses and nudging me to approach God’s will from a different perspective. As I read God’s Word each day, it seems that I am repeatedly encountering the phrase “God’s will” and the word “seek.” Clearly God is pointing out something of significance He wants me to learn. He continually is bringing to mind the words from I Thessalonians 4:3, “This is God’s will, your sanctification.” If you have spent any time at all in church, you know that sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit and is often only used in Christian circles. To understand what God’s will is, we must understand this concept of sanctification. The original Greek word for this is hagiasmos, and it means “to sanctify, make holy, treat as holy, the process or work of making something holy; sanctified behavior, holy living” (Key Word Study Bible New Testament Lexical Aids). Basically, the process of sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit within believers to make them more like Christ. If God’s will for each of His children is our sanctification, then it is His will for us to become more and more like His Son, Jesus, though we will not fully achieve it this side of heaven. Yet, we are to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this process. Though Paul was focusing more on the concept of sanctification regarding immorality in his letter to the Thessalonians, there is a great lesson here to every believer. God wills for us to be sanctified. He desires us to look and to act more and more like Jesus, as we grow and mature in our faith. Sanctification and spiritual maturity go hand-in-hand. If I am not growing in spiritual maturity, then I am most likely not becoming more like Christ.
Perhaps, I have been taking the wrong question to God. My question seems to be, “What is Your will for my life?” Yet maybe the question should be, “How can I become more like Christ in this situation?” The key to unlocking God’s will for my life is found in being obedient to His will in the activities of my everyday life. Christ has provided countless examples of how to love others, how to pray, how to speak to others, how to give, how to forgive, and so many more. We will know we are in God’s will when we see the fruit evidenced in our lives. We will begin bearing the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22–love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. In every single situation, conversation, thought, action, or encounter, we have the opportunity to choose to reflect Christ in that moment. That, my friend, is God’s will. We know how we are to treat others. We know what God’s love looks like. We know that God provides precepts by which to live found in His Word–we need only open it. God’s will is for me to respond in love, grace, kindness, and forgiveness. God’s will for me is to offer a smile and a gentle word even when I am feeling impatient and want to get through my to-do list. Every single time, we get to choose, will I cooperate with the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in this moment or will I choose to indulge my flesh? God’s will is for us to become more like Jesus. Every day. It won’t always be easy. In fact, it will likely require more from us than we feel like giving. Yet it will always be worth it. Dying to ourselves to be more like Christ. Hebrews 12:1-2 urges us, “to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Present our bodies as a living sacrifice. Lay your wants and desires and impulses on the altar every single day, and ask Jesus to conform them to reflect His desires. Become a daily sacrifice to living for Jesus and dying to ourselves. As we allow Jesus to transform us, He will reveal more and more of Himself to us. And then we will continue to know His will. I am reminded of the verse in Luke 16:10: “Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much.” Faithfully cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the process of sanctification, in the process of becoming more like Jesus, in the most minute of circumstances. Then we will be trustworthy with much. Oh how I pray that when Jesus looks at me, He sees a trustworthy servant whose greatest desire is to know Him and to love Him! It all begins in the little things–allow Jesus to sanctify you through and through! I encourage you today to reflect and perform a self-check on how well you cooperate with the Holy Spirit making you more like Jesus. Then, live intentionally with the full confidence of knowing that reflecting Christ in the dailies is His will for you in every moment.