As followers of Christ we all want to do the will of God. The hard part often is knowing what His will is. To be sure, there are clear commands to obey in Scripture, “thus saith the Lord” types of injunctions, that we’d do well to heed. But there’s also a wide range of choices we face for which there is no prescriptive direction and for which we need to rely more on principle-based discernment. That’s why in Romans Paul emphasizes the need to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” It’s the key to discerning the will of God, to figuring out the “good and acceptable and perfect” course of action (Rom. 12:2).
But, without everything laid out in a simple “what to do in case of” book, a lot of energy can be spent on trying to figure out the will of God. And that’s why, to be honest, it’s kind of refreshing whenever you come across a “this is the will of God” passage in Scripture. Encountered one this morning.
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
(1Peter 2:15-16 ESV)
Context? Persecuted people in a hostile land. Sojourners and exiles (1Pet. 2:11) just trying to get through the day, yet wanting to make a difference in their world as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1Pet. 2:9).
Get through another day swimming upstream, yet have an impact for eternity. How ya’ gonna do that?
Well, this is the will of God — do good. Be a “well-doer.” Benefit others. Even when the going is tough. Even when the environment is hostile. Even when it means being subject to human institutions which aren’t exactly God-friendly (1Pet. 2:13).
I accept the critique that the “lifestyle evangelism” movement of decades ago perhaps minimized the importance of the spoken gospel as it emphasized the need for living out the gospel. That preaching the gospel with our lives, and maybe “if necessary using words,” left us with too many believers unprepared to “make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope” within us (1Pet. 3:15). Having lost sight, perhaps, that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).
But having accepted that critique, and aware of such caution, I’m reminded this morning, however, that good lives matter when it comes to making the good news known.
Belief without behavior is hollow. Conviction without character is inconsistent. Faith apart from works is dead (Ja. 2:26).
This is the will of God: do good! Silence the critics with holiness.
Walk as Jesus walked, as servants of God, in the Power with which He walked, the power of the abiding Spirit, and it will mute the noise and provide a space for the gospel to be heard as well as seen.
This is the will of God. Simple! Yeah, but not easy. Yet possible because “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20a).
Good lives matter. Let’s do good.
By His grace. For His glory.