We have been looking at how you can know what God’s will is when it isn’t quite obvious. This week I want to suggest that sometimes the best way to know what God’s will is for you is to consider which option allows you to fulfil your responsibilities towards other people.
We all have God-given responsibilities towards others. Firstly, all children have responsibilities towards parents: ‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right’ (Ephesians 6:1). If your parents have commanded you not to do something, God probably doesn’t want you to do it either (particularly if you are not an adult yourself).
Secondly, everyone has a responsibility toward their other relatives, particularly in relation to their material needs: ‘If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever’ (1 Timothy 5:8).
Thirdly, there is a particular responsibility to care for your spouse. The one flesh relationship means that if you do not factor your husband or wife into a decision, you are not showing appropriate care for your own body: ‘In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself’ (Ephesians 5:28).
Fourthly, you should also consider the responsibilities you have toward your church family. The New Testament expects every Christian is a member of a local church and is involved in showing appropriate love to the members there. If the choice you are making is going to strain your relationship with your local church, then it is probably not a good idea.
Finally, you should also consider the responsibilities that you have toward the Australian government by living in Australia. God is quite clear that we are supposed to obey local authorities: ‘Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established’ (Romans 13:1). So if what you are planning on doing is illegal, then it is very likely God doesn’t want you to do it – although in rare instances it may be appropriate (e.g. Peter and John refusing to stop teaching about Jesus in Acts 4:18-20).
Do you consider your responsibilities towards others when you make an important decision?