In recent weeks, I have written about the need to candidly assess our walk with God in line with the results we’re experiencing in our Christian experience and, I have also written about the cost of being ignorant of the ways of God. I believe the quality of the results we experience and the level of ignorance we possess are good indicators for our Christ-likeness. Having assessed my life, I can see areas where ignorance has led to a lack of results. So, I write this blog with some regret.
I recently found out that the primary purpose of my life was to glorify God [Isaiah 43:7]. Thus far, I honestly can’t say my life has glorified God as He intended. I once heard a preacher say that the daily reality of many Christians mocks the power of God. He was implying that what we claim and profess is vastly different from our lived experience. As a logical person, I’m forced to question myself every time I read God’s word and find areas of my life at odds with His promises. But lately, I’ve come to the understanding that God is a God of principles. His principles are consistent. He guarantees the results when we follow His principles. However, if we don’t know or follow those principles, we won’t see the results He promises, irrespective of how sincere we are in our walk with Him. This statement explains much of my Christian experience.
God desires that those who follow Him be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding [Colossians 1:9]. When this happens, they’ll walk in a manner worthy of Him, which is fully pleasing to Him. They’ll also bear fruit (experience results) that glorify God. Additionally, they’ll increase in the knowledge of God, with joyful patience and endurance, sustained by God’s power [Colossians 1:10-11]. This is how a Christian achieves sustainable results. But, can a Christian become filled with the knowledge of God’s will without studying His word? Where will such a person find spiritual wisdom and understanding? Will such a person experience the results God promised?
My kids did something recently that illustrated the importance of understanding God’s principles. I watched them put orange seeds in a cup of water to see if they would sprout. Regardless of how fervently anyone prays for those seeds to grow into orange trees, it’s unlikely to happen because a principle has been violated. We’re supposed to bury seeds in the soil, not drown them in water. Even though God can do as He pleases, He never violates His principles [Psalm 138.2], nor show favouritism [Romans 2:11]. As such, if unbelievers take the same seeds and plant them as God intended, those seeds will grow. Therefore, if God promises you a harvest, it’s His responsibility to provide rain, seeds and fertile soil. But you must plant and nurture the seeds with wisdom to reap the promised harvest. If, however, you’re ignorant of the principles associated with reaping a harvest, is God responsible if there’s no harvest? Did He lie?
In Proverbs, Solomon says: “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight. Don’t rely on your wisdom, fear God and turn away from evil” [Proverbs 3:5-7]. It occurred to me that I can ignorantly lean on my own understanding. This happens every time I make a decision that isn’t based on a principle in God’s word. The phrase “following God” has very practical connotations. Amongst other things, it means living your life according to God’s principles [Hebrews 6:12]. When we choose to operate in our wisdom, we aren’t acting in the fear of the Lord, and that’s a slippery slope to evil. Consequently, our paths won’t be straight and we won’t get lasting results.
If like me you’re wondering why you aren’t seeing certain results in your life, ask yourself if you’re operating on principles that can be backed by God’s word. Even if you’re seeing results, ask yourself how you got them. If you don’t know how you got your results, how will you sustain it? How will you teach it to others? Results based on God’s principles are guaranteed by God, but results based on man’s principles are guaranteed by man. No prizes for which will stand the test of time. Moreover, since God stakes His integrity on His word, you can appeal to Him if, having done all required of you, the results don’t follow. He cannot ignore you because of His character. So, taste and see for yourself if God isn’t faithful [Psalm 34:8].
The Bible often describes God’s people as sheep. Sheep aren’t smart. So, any attempt to live independent of their shepherd ends in disaster. Just as it’s very dangerous for sheep to wander grasslands without a shepherd, it’s similarly dangerous for the Christian acting outside of God’s principles. It is the shepherd that keeps the sheep from stumbling [Jude 1:24] and it is the shepherd’s voice that leads the sheep to a place of rest, peace and provision [John 10:9, Psalm 23]. Nevertheless, God has given His sheep free will, and often in our hubris, we think we can walk on paths different to the paths of righteousness laid out in God’s word and achieve lasting results [1 Samuel 2:9].
Doing things God’s way matters because it guarantees the results we want. If we aren’t sure what God’s principles are for the specific situation we’re facing, then it’s our responsibility to find it out. There’s no alternative. Make it a priority to study and understand the principles of God that back the actions you take in every area of life. This is a very practical way to walk by faith [2 Corinthians 5:7].