1 Thessalonians 5

Read 1 Thessalonians 5.

What is God’s will for your life?

That is an important question for every believer to consider. It is always helpful to remember that God’s will has two aspects to it:

  • God’s decreed will. This is what happens. Everything that happens does so because God caused it to happen or allowed it to happen. If someone lives to be 110 years old or dies in an accident at age 10, that was the will of God for that person.
  • God’s desired will. This is what God wants to happen morally speaking. Every command of God expresses his desired will. “Do not kill” is God’s desired will.

It was not God’s desired will for anyone to sin or for any of us to die. Death is the consequence of sin and God commanded humanity not to sin. In God’s decreed will, however, people sin and people die everyday.

To put it another way–God’s desired will is, “Do not kill.” But God’s decreed will included many acts of murder. Those acts of murder were all displeasing to God. They were all outside of his moral will. He is not to blame for any one of them because they were all committed willfully by people. Yet, the Bible teaches that they all happened under his sovereign lordship.

Too many Christians get preoccupied with what God’s decreed will is; not enough of us are concerned about what God’s desired will is.

To repeat that more specifically: Too many Christians wonder who God wants them to marry, what vocation God wants them to have, whether they should buy that Ford Focus in red or in blue. Not enough of us think about what moral commands God wants us to obey.

Here at the end of 1 Thessalonians, Paul commanded the believers, “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

What is God’s will for your life? Among other things, it is God’s will for you to be thankful. And, notice, we are commanded to give thanks “in all circumstances.” Whether your marriage is happy or not, whether your career is going well or not, whether the red Ford Focus you bought is reliable or a lemon, God wants you to be thankful.

In this fallen world of ours, there is always plenty to complain about. If you have a great marriage, it still isn’t a perfect marriage. It is easy to become angry and resentful about your spouse’s weaknesses, limitations, or irritating habits. It is easy to forget that other people you know lost a spouse to illness much sooner than expected. Or, if you’re the person who lost your spouse way too soon, it is easy to forget that your spouse was good and loving to you during the time that you had together.

Every circumstance in life could be better than it is. Most circumstances in life could be worse than they are.

But God’s command–God’s will–for us is not to be thankful because, “It could be worse.” God’s will for us is to be thankful “in Christ Jesus” (v. 18b). Regardless of what hurts you, frustrates you, angers you, or makes you complain about your life, Christ Jesus came to redeem you from it. He’s promised you a better life in eternity and rewards for following him obediently in this life, regardless of the circumstances you live in. He also promises to use whatever circumstances you live in to refine your faith in him and make you stronger as a believer.

So, are you thankful for your life, as it is right now? Are you rejoicing always (v. 16), giving thanks in all circumstances (v. 18a)? If not, let this simple verse refocus your mind.

What is the will of God for you? It is to be thankful to him. What can you thank him for today?