Living Your Life According to God’s Ways
by RICHARD BLACKABY
MY PARENTS LIVED LONG, fruitful lives. They traveled to 115 nations, encouraging God’s people. My father has met with world leaders, including four American presidents. Yet earlier this year, they both became seriously ill. My siblings and I hired a nurse to care for them. At first, I wondered why God would allow His faithful servants to suffer. It seemed that God should enable them to enjoy their senior years in comfort.
One day my brother-in-law led my parents’ nurse to Christ. Then I gained a clearer understanding. When my father couldn’t travel, God sent people to him. When he was unable to minister, God brought his family in to fill the gap.
Many Christians are confused by God’s activity in their lives. They think God will act one way, and then He behaves entirely differently. They assume God will bless them if they do the right thing, but things become more difficult. They live a good Christian life, and then they contract a serious disease. They have faith, but God doesn’t grant their request. There is a simple explanation: His ways are not ours.
God said through Isaiah, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.’ This is the Lord’s declaration. ‘For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isa. 55:8-9). One of the greatest mistakes God’s people make is assuming God thinks and acts like they do. God’s thoughts are supremely higher than ours.
For one, He is infinitely wiser than we are. Second, He is eternal. He knows everything that has happened and everything that will occur until He brings history to its cataclysmic close. Life may catch you by surprise, but God is never caught off guard. We see the moment. God sees eternity.
We are often unaware of how pervasively the world’s ways have impacted our thinking. Yet we have spent our lives immersed in secular reasoning, and we are constantly being bombarded by it.
Jesus taught many things that contradict worldly wisdom. He said that the last would be first (see Matt. 20:16); that it is harder for a rich person than a poor person to enter heaven (see Matt. 19:23); that if you try to save your life, you will lose it (see Matt. 16:25); that those who wished to be great should become a servant (see Matt. 20:26); and that if your enemy slaps your face, you should offer him the other side as well (see Matt. 5:39).
Sadly, many Christians try to live Christ’s life the world’s way, and countless churches embrace the world’s values and methods. Jesus said His kingdom is like leaven. It appears insignificant but grows over time until it permeates the entire lump of dough (see Matt. 13:33.) He also said His kingdom is like a mustard seed (see Matt. 13:31-32.) It begins as a tiny seed, yet it grows to become a mighty tree. In contrast, the world asserts that we must use grand marketing campaigns and neon lights to gain people’s attention. When we use the world’s methods, we achieve the world’s results.
My father used to say, “If you come up with a plan that makes perfect sense to you, it probably didn’t come from God!” Our ways are not His. We must learn the ways of God. David prayed, “Make your ways known to me, Lord; teach me your paths” (Ps. 25:4).
We must make several changes if we are to learn God’s ways. First, we should acknowledge that we need to learn them. Many Christians trust their own thinking far too much. Abraham assumed his method of having a son — sleeping with Sarah’s maid — was the most logical approach, but it resulted in enormous heartache. Moses believed his way of liberating the Hebrews — killing an Egyptian taskmaster — was the best plan, but it cost him 40 years herding sheep in the wilderness. Peter supposed he must protect his friend from the cross, and it resulted in one of Jesus’ severest rebukes (see Matt. 16:23.) Oh, that God’s people would humble themselves and confess that their ways are not God’s!
Second, we must study Scripture to learn God’s ways. Carefully read how Jesus treated people, what He taught, and how He grew God’s kingdom. It is all there for us to see, but we must first surrender our biases, preferences, and pride. When we read the Bible, we should ask several questions: What does this tell me about God’s ways? How are my ways different from the ways of God I see in the Bible? What adjustments must I make so my ways match God’s?
Next, we must heed the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our life. Perhaps you were taught to blow your own horn to be noticed. When joining a new church, your first instinct is to tell the pastor about your service in your former congregation. Yet the Holy Spirit gently guides you to participate humbly in your new church’s activities. Trust that if God wants you to serve in a particular role, He will elevate you when He chooses. Or perhaps you feel compelled to drive your employees to achieve their best performance. Then the Holy Spirit reveals that you do not care about your employees beyond the profit they earn the company. God leads you to express His love for your people instead. As a result several become Christians, and performance and morale dramatically improves.
Can you fathom what could happen if Christians started doing things God’s way? Imagine if Christians began treating people like Jesus did. Consider what would happen if congregations conducted themselves the way God’s kingdom operates. How long would it take for the world to notice? How soon would people feel the impact? Revival would be near.
Take time to reflect on your methods. Are they God’s? God blesses His ways. Is He blessing your efforts? Make whatever adjustment is necessary to begin experiencing the power, joy, and victory that come from doing things God’s way.
RICHARD BLACKABY is the president of Blackaby Ministries International. He speaks internationally on spiritual leadership in the church, marketplace, and home. He has authored or coauthored 40 books, including Experiencing God and the upcoming book The Ways of God: How God Reveals Himself Before a Watching World (updated edition).