What do you do when a decision is being required of you and there is no clear guidance from the Scriptures? All of us face situations – usually daily ones – that don’t require writing in the sky from God. Yet, as His children, all of us want our pathway to be honorable unto the Lord. Many times we are graced to have clear counsel from the Bible which comes in the form of promise, prohibition or principle. While promises and prohibitions are very clear, there are varying levels of clarity when it comes to biblical principles and how we might apply them to our lives. When you don’t have a promise or a prohibition, and you must therefore apply a principle, it helps to have in your arsenal a God-sensitive conscience.
God speaks to us. Purposefully, proactively and powerfully, God communicates His desires to His children. Please believe this, because it is equally true that other voices compete for our confidence and willingness to be led.
Several years back, I received a very kind, albeit very long, email from a TV viewer who was convinced that I only have a head knowledge of Christ. She believed that I would come up short of salvation in the end, and that I needed to experience a genuine Christian conversion. She detailed to me why she believed this and encouraged me to explore more in depth the love of God and what that really means. Without ever crossing the line of kindness into abrasiveness, she let me know what was wrong with my ministry unto the Lord, my style of communicating biblical truth, and what was lacking in the flock after her one onsite visit with us. She was very confident that she properly discerned who I am and what our church was all about. I wanted to respond to her note, so I slowed down to consider what she had said. One upon a time, I would have offered up a defense or rebuttal to her. Even worse, I might have even responded with a measure of insecure fear that she was correct in her assessment (of my ministry, not my soul’s well-being), and could have entered into a prolonged time of defeat, guilt, people-pleasing-fear or morbid introspection. In short, I might have agreed with her because, back then, I assumed I was wholly inadequate for ministry and was just waiting to be exposed as such. My thought life was very vulnerable in those days. Not as much any more.
God, in His precise grace given lavishly at the points of our heightened weakness, has taken great care to minister to me over the years in this very area. Through His word implanted in my heart, through His people who instruct me and exemplify to me His ways, and through His recognizable voice in my conscience, I am constantly receiving counsel. He sensitizes my conscience, and I am realizing lately how precious a gift this is. The Holy Spirit has not disappeared nor has He retired from His committed work of leading, enlightening and renewing our minds. He is always speaking to us, and I am learning that it is my call to position myself to accurately hear Him. So what is it that you hear? To whom do you listen about the most important things? Learning to discern truth from error is not always as simple as declaring what is black or what is white. Sometimes we have to comprehend the fluctuating shades of gray that seek to color or thoughts. Right now, in America, we are being bombarded by so many extreme voices. We feel the impulse to choose sides in the many cultural battles currently being waged. It is sometimes difficult to discern the whisper of God’s direction amidst the roar of chaos in our nation. But what about our need to hear God on a more personal or intimate level? Maybe someone tells you that you are great and gifted – can you receive this encouragement properly? A voice from your childhood declares that you are ugly or worthless – will you allow this accusing insult to permeate you as does the defenseless child? Satan reminds you of your past sins…will you allow your God-sensitized conscience to speak more powerfully of His grace to you? Friends, your inner voice speaks either truth or lies to you every day. It is actually the most important voice which speaks to you – nobody talks to you as much as you do. The voice you listen to the most often impacts the quality of your life and the degree of the glory for God which proceeds from your life. This is an important issue that I hope you will ponder. Slow down. Listen. Discern what type of voice is training you about God, your life and your perception of what is happening around you. You do not have to listen to everybody as they seek to define you. Your identity is in Jesus Christ, and He will unfold it accurately each day in the context of His grace to you.
In case you are curious about how I responded to the woman who believed she had me summed-up, I promised her that I would read her email again multiple times, and I did. She went to a great effort to write it for me, and I assume her motivation was as pure as she said. I did not know her at all outside of a quick conversation we shared in the lobby of the church when she visited, so I can only assume she believed she could help me. Maybe she did… in a way. Her forthrightness afforded me an opportunity to decide what voice I would allow to define me that day. The one thing I know is that, whether what she wrote to me and about me was true or not, it could be allowed to become louder than my God-sensitized conscience. God alone owns that part of me. It cost Him much to procure it. We cannot hazard allowing another voice to replace it.
Love people with great openness. But place a wise filter over what they say to you.