SEEKING AND PRACTICING
In seeking to know God’s will, we have to be honest and practice what we know. True seeking is always accompanied by practice. It is for the sake of practicing God’s will that we seek it. If we have no intention of practicing, what good does it do if we know His will? Knowing God’s will without practicing it is offensive to God; it cultivates the flesh and allows it to survive. When the flesh realizes the hardship involved in doing God’s will, it shrinks back. If we do not put to death the deeds of the flesh and do not walk according to God’s will, our life will suffer a great blow. God wants us to do His will; He is not satisfied with us only knowing His will. He causes us to know His will in order that we will do His will. If we do not do His will, our knowledge is empty knowledge! God has no pleasure in anything other than His will. True knowledge is a matter of practice.
Here I should repeat what I have mentioned before: we should have no inclination, self-will, and cravings in our heart. Only then can we know God’s will. If we do not have a heart to obey God willingly, He will not reveal to us His will. First there must be a willingness to do His will; then God will spontaneously show us His will.
NATURAL UNWILLINGNESS IN THE HEART
One frequent problem among us as God’s children is that we are naturally unwilling to do God’s will. Biases, cravings, and self-will unintentionally appear. It seems that the price of doing God’s will is too great, that it contradicts our own will too much, and that it is too much of a hardship for the flesh and too uncomfortable for our own feeling. This does not mean that we do not want to know God’s will; we do want to know God’s will. But, at the same time, we have our own cravings. Many times we think that if we are willing, we will be finished and our life will be over. The way of deliverance for us is to repeatedly acknowledge God’s right over us. We should meditate on the Lord’s love, on how He died for us, how He suffered, saved, comforted, forbore, and cared for us. We should obey Him because He has a right over us, and we should be moved to follow Him because of His love. We should meditate on these things until our heart melts and our tears come down. The Lord’s love will surely touch us. At the same time, we should ask ourselves, "Is it true that I am not willing to do God’s will and that I have my own inclinations? Am I willing to allow God to work on me until I become willing and until I have no more inclinations?" This means that although we are not willing to do God’s will, we are willing to allow God to make us willing to do His will. In other words, in ourselves, we are not willing to do His will in a direct sense. But in an indirect sense, we are willing to allow God to make us willing. To put it in still another way, if it is true that we have no willingness in ourselves to do His will, do we have a willingness to allow God to make us willing? We may not have the first willingness. But do we have the second willingness? If we do not have a willingness to do His will, and if we do not have a willingness to allow Him to make us willing, we will surely not know His will. Even if we know it, it will be useless to us. We will only fall according to our self-will. If we do not have a direct willingness, but have an indirect willingness, God will still work in our hearts or our environment to make us willing. It is amazing that God performs miracles to turn our hearts and make them willing. Sometimes this step takes time. God does not force us to do anything. If we feel that we cannot obey Him and are not willing to allow Him to make us willing, He will surely not work. Philippians 2:13 presents a great truth: "For it is God who operates in you both the willing and the working for His good pleasure." This does not say that God will do the willing for us. Rather, it says that God operates in us until we become willing. Therefore, if we are not willing to do God’s will, we should have at least one kind of willingness—we should be willing to allow God to turn our unwillingness into willingness and operate in us until we become willing. If a man does not have even a little amount of willingness, what he does will certainly be outside God’s will, and not be pleasing to God. But blessed are those who are attracted by God’s love, who look forward to the coming glory, who have no reluctance in their hearts to do God’s will, and who are always ready and waiting for His command. Happy are these ones!
THE CRUCIAL QUESTION
George Müller was a man experienced in prayer and in fellowship with the Lord. He said that every time he was about to do something, he always asked himself a few questions. The most important questions he asked were, "Is this God’s will? Is this God’s will for me? Is this God’s time? and, Is this God’s way?" He had to wait until he was completely clear about the answers to these questions before he would act. We should learn of him in this matter. If we act cautiously, we will not make mistakes.
Brothers, if we have indeed fully consecrated ourselves to the Lord, we will see Him restricting us in everything. Many things are excellent and proper in our eyes. We may want to do them, but because they are not God’s will, we dare not proceed with them. There may be many works which we deem profitable and precious. We may want to do them, but because they are not God’s will, we will not dare to do them. In our thoughts, we should drop everything that is not according to His will. We should do His will and please His heart, rather than please ourselves. Although many things may be precious and desirable to us, for the Lord’s sake, we should willingly give them up. What a bondage! Blessed bondage! What restriction! Blessed restriction! What hindrance! Blessed hindrance! Daily we should consider our self-will and self-opinion as gone and shattered. Daily we should suffer the "undesirable" things. The restrictions in the Lord’s hand are sweet indeed. Our heart magnifies the Lord. He must increase, and we must decrease. Our heart rejoices at seeing our self stripped and the Lord’s will accomplished. May the Lord cause us to always know His will and do it. "Lord, when we suffer through our self being confined, we are truly happy, because You are happy!"
"That you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God" (Col. 4:12).
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 02: The Word of the Cross, Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)