Divine Guidance

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”—Proverbs 3:5-6

To have “straight paths” or to have your path straightened is an ancient expression that means to have all obstacles removed so that your journey is successful. On the other hand, to walk along straight paths is to be guarded from deviating onto the crooked paths of sinful ways. Here we discover the promise of God for divine guidance.

Why Do We Need Divine Guidance?

There are several facts that force this truth upon us:

  • The complexity of life—the longer we live, the more we see that life is not as simple as it seems.
  • Our ignorance of the future—who knows what a day will bring; yet we must boldly face the next day and plan in advance.
  • The demands of duty—to God, family, employers, etc., which sometimes conflict with one another.
  • The deception of sin—“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov.14:12)

What Conditions Must Be Met Before Divine Guidance Is Given?

  • Self-surrenderThe man who finds divine guidance will be the one who renounces self and places his confidence in and sets his hope (confident expectation of obtaining something good) on the Lord. (Ps.40:17, 25:14, 9:10)
  • Whole-hearted faithTo trust God with all your heart does not mean to perfectly trust God, but to honestly aim every thought, affection, and desire toward Him. To do something with all your heart is to place every ounce of energy into it. This is how we are to direct ourselves toward the Lord in order to find divine guidance.
  • Self-distrustThe admonition here does not mean that we are not to use and improve our own understanding, form plans with discretion, or employ legitimate means in the pursuit of wisdom (counsel, etc.). We are just not to lean upon them. Because of pride, we are more prone and prefer to lean upon our own understanding than the understanding of others. Rather, when we use our understanding to form plans or pursue wisdom, we are not to boast in them but depend upon God and His directing and overruling providence. (Cf. Jer.9:23-24)
  • Seeking His approvalTo acknowledge God means two things: first, to recognize His right to overrule, and second, to ask whether the thing that we are about to do is in accordance with His will. To acknowledge Him is not to ask of every action or situation, “What would a man in my position do?” but to ask, “Is this what the Lord would have me to do?”How does this look?

    1. Referring everything to Him
    2. Consulting Him in our hearts
    3. A
    pplying His will as revealed in His Word
    4. Praying for and expecting His divine direction

We are to think biblically, acknowledge fully, consult wisely, act diligently, and then trust completely in the grace and promise of God.

THE PROMISE: “He will make your paths straight.” How? He does this by His Word, through His providence, by His promptings, and through His people.


Why, God?

I used to say I didn’t know why God does some of the things He does.

He allows riches to benefit evil men and violence to fall upon the innocent. He allows a good nation to turn against itself and tear itself up from the inside. He allowed my dad to suffer a stroke and then live on severely disabled for 3,063 days before finally passing away.

hen I’m physically weak or emotionally wrecked, I ask God why He allows these things. The answer is obvious: when God does anything, or allows anything to happen, He does it for my own good and for His own glory. Paul tells the Roman believers (and us) that “…we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

But what I’ve learned about myself is that I don’t ask with the right attitude. I don’t even ask with the voice of one “who loves God.” Instead, I question Him with a discontented, complaining heart. In the question, I have no faith. I don’t want to know why God does what He does. Rather, I want God to explain Himself to me. In the question, I rank myself above God and I put Him on trial. I am the prosecutor; He is the defendant.

Forgive me, Lord. You are the Potter. I am the clay. I must consider:

“You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, that what is made would say to its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?” (Isaiah 29:16)

And also:

“Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—an earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?” (Isaiah 45:9)

And finally:

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)

I don’t know how God works the details to meet His own will. And when my heart is in the right place, I don’t need to know. God is good (all the time), and His will is perfect. It is I who am flawed, and the better my eyesight becomes, the deeper I perceive the cracked, sinful condition of my heart.

Instead of hounding a perfect God to explain Himself to a sinful man, I should be fishing faithfully for sinful men to proclaim to them a perfect God.


Which Way Do I Go?

The will of God. For people who are concerned about knowing it, it often becomes the source of much anxiety. Many people get worked up about knowing God’s will for their lives, as if He has an exact roadmap that marks out every moment of their existence and if they don’t know it or follow it, they are outside of His will and are displeasing to Him. They stress out about finding the exact person whom God has “willed” to be their spouse, or the perfect job that He has designated for them, or the best car to buy, etc.; it is some great mystery that they are always trying to discover. For them, the will of God brings no rest, no comfort, and no joy. If this describes you, I’m sorry. Believe me, I’ve been there too. However, it’s not that complicated. Seriously.

The first place we must look when discerning the will of God for our lives is His Word, the Bible. God has spoken quite clearly about what His will is and what He desires for our lives; it’s all in The Book. As John MacArthur points out, it is God’s will that you be:

  • Saved (1 Tim.2:3-4; 2 Pet.3:9)
  • Spirit-filled (Eph.5:17-18)
  • Sanctified (1 Thess.4:3-7)
  • Submissive (1 Pet.2:13-15)
  • Suffering (Phil.1:29; 2 Tim.3:12)

He goes on to say, “If all those things are true in your life, you may do whatever you want.” No roadmap. No mystery. No stress.

Whom should I marry? If I’m a believer, Paul tells me to marry only in the Lord (1 Cor.7:39), meaning another believer; nobody specifically, but a Christian in general. What house or car should I buy? Ones that fit within my budget after I’ve made provision to give a tithe and offering to the work of the Lord (Mal.3:10) and ones that don’t cause me to fall into enslaving amounts of debt (Prov.22:7). Where should I work? Preferably anywhere that does not violate some moral or ethical principle of the Bible or anywhere where an employer does not do the same.

So does God have a detailed plan laid out for me? Well, He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End (Rev.1:8; 21:6; 22:13), which means that He knows the end from the beginning; He already knows the way that we will take. So I guess that is a roadmap of sorts, but it’s one known only by Him that we unfold daily throughout our lives. It’s a map that He knows, but that we chart with the help of His Word. So do you really want to know God’s will for your life? Then you gotta get in The Book.

God’s Will for My Wallet

All of us have questions about the will of God in our lives—whom should I marry, what school should I go to, how should I raise my children, etc.? Hopefully, those questions stem from an earnest desire to please God in every aspect of our lives. Of course, oftentimes, God doesn’t give us direct answers to those questions, but calls us to live out Biblical principles that can apply to every situation—also known  as wisdom. When it comes to our finances, God gives us both direct injunctions as well as general principles that help to guide us in using money according to His will. The first and foremost principle, without which none of the others is genuinely possible, is to simply, and radically, recognize that your money is not your money. It all belongs to God.

The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” (Psalm 24:1)

“Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name. But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You.” (1Ch.29:12-14)

 “What do you have that you did not receive?” (2 Cor.4:7)

In other words, these verses, and many others throughout the Bible, affirm that God created all things, rules over all things, and owns all things. Everything that we have flows out of His abundance. The more we recognize this fact and embrace it, the more we will assess how we use our money. We will see our money as a resource we can use for His kingdom purposes before our own desires.