Opinions abound... everyone has one! Here's one I liked by a former American president, "I have opinions of my own—strong opinions—but I don't always agree with them."
This brings up a couple good questions. Can all opinions be right? Can any of them be right?
"If you convinced me—And I convinced you, Would there not still be—Two points of view?" [Richard Amour]
Many people claim God told them certain things. But is this their opinion, or was it really God? How can we know one way or the other?
Figure it out
A multitude of authors and speakers claim they can teach people to know the will of God. But I wonder, is it really that hard to know?
Preschool-age children already know how to figure out their parents. As they get older, they know who to go to for a favorable response to what they want.
We learn how to discern this at an early age, and likewise, learn how to use this discernment to manipulate others.
Is it really that hard to know the will of God?
You can't manipulate God, but you can know His will. It's really not that difficult. The hard part is giving up on trying to manipulate Him to agree with what we want (our self-will).
A tell-tale sign of not hearing God's voice is when we think we have it all figured out. Then we attempt to coerce others to believe it.
When we deceive ourselves that something is true because we are banking on it, we then work on others so they will accept it. This is either an effort to deceive or leads to deception.
You can't manipulate God, but you can know His will
The value of listening
Don't get me wrong. I'm as opinionated as the next person. Sometimes, more than most. When I begin to hear my own voice sound shrill and uncompromising, I know it's time to listen, not talk.
You've heard the old expression, "We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak." [Epictetus]
When my voice sounds shrill and uncompromising—I need to listen not talk
Over the centuries, or should I say, millennia, people have taken the truth, twisted it to their own design, and presented it as God's truth. This happens in all areas of philosophy and religion, among individuals and within churches.
Cultural swings can influence this. It could be the current flow of a culture or opposition to it. Think hundreds of years, not decades for perspective.
The earliest example of misrepresenting what God says is found in the encounter of the crafty serpent with the first woman and man (Gen 3:1-5)
People have long taken the truth, twisted it, and presented it as God's truth
Jesus dealt with this in His time. Experts in the Law had tweaked and twisted God's truth into their own version of it. The foremost ones were called Pharisees.
It's no different today. We have our own Pharisees. Of course, we think it's the other guys, not ourselves. We brand them with libelous labels and separate ourselves as more righteous.
But when we do this, we hide behind the shadow of Jesus—our version of Him—as if He's on our side. When we do this are we any different than the Pharisees of the Lord's time?
Pharisees exist today but we think it's the other guys, not us
How Jesus made the truth clear
How did Jesus deal with this twisting and tweaking of truth? He often restated truth in its original form, its intended meaning.
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘Never break your oath, but give to the Lord what you swore in an oath to give him.’
But I tell you don’t swear an oath at all. Don’t swear an oath by heaven, which is God’s throne, or by the earth, which is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, which is the city of the great King. And don’t swear an oath by your head. After all, you cannot make one hair black or white.
Simply say yes or no. Anything more than that comes from the evil one." (Matt 5:33-37 GW)
So, it's imperative that we know and understand the truth of God well. Not our view of the truth or the dogmatic views of spiritual leaders.
It's imperative that we know and understand the truth of God well
How to know the truth yourself?
The first priority is knowing God—knowing Him in a personal way
How? A simple path is looking at all the invitations Jesus gives in the gospels. Hear them. Take them to heart. Let them become life in you.
Here are two important invitiations—
“Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest... learn from me, because I am gentle and humble." (Matt 11:28-29 GW)
“Those who want to come with me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses every day, and follow me." (Luke 9:23 GW)
But how will you know His will? How will you know if you're following Him in the right way?
Simple. When your life reflects the nature of Jesus, you're on the right path.
When your life reflects the nature of Jesus, you're on the right path