Is this God's will?
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. (I John 2:15-16)
At times, people will ask me how they can know if a particular decision is 'in God's will'. I have found that using this verse as a guide to 'weed out' the ones that really aren't the best for us has helped me. If the craving is for some form of physical pleasure, I take a moment longer to consider the choice. If it is just because I see everyone is on the bandwagon to get something, I step back and wait to see if that 'thing' or 'activity' really is necessary or is just a nicety. If those two don't stop me in my tracks, I consider just how much my pride is motivating a particular decision. If it seems that pride is pushing me forward, I step back even further because I know pride comes before a downward trend!
It amazes me how much the enemy of our souls uses these three things to get us wrapped up in 'stuff' and 'relationships' that we just didn't need or shouldn't have pursued in the first place. The eyes take it all in, the emotions get us all wrapped up in knots over it, and our pride is just too heck-bent on getting its own way! Stop long enough to consider what you are allowing in through your 'eye gate' and you might just find you need to stop looking. Contemplate something long enough, allowing your emotions to override common sense and you might just end up regretting the choice all together. Get even the tiniest bit of pride behind your emotions or lust of the eyes and you might just be a goner!
The very next verse says, "And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever." (v 17) Those things are elusive and oftentimes quite deceptive. Learning to do what please God begins by recognizing when we are getting caught up in one of those three traps we just discussed. The more we recognize behavior or choices that don't bring honor to God or edify our spirits, the quicker we will be to recognize the right choice or behavior. God doesn't make it hard for us to know his will, but he does know how much we struggle to recognize the things that are NOT of his will. Whenever our 'rational thought' gets put into the mix, the 'irrational behavior' is just around the corner. Sometimes the will of God doesn't seem all that 'rational', but we may just have to stop listening to our intellect and start listening to the still small voice of the Spirit within who urges us toward right behavior. Just sayin!