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Good, Pleasing and Perfect Will

Discovering God’s will is interesting to most people. We would like to consider what God’s will is for our lives and decide if we want to follow it. We find doing His will compelling in some ways and terrifying in other ways. The truth is that most of us don’t wake up each morning with the thought: I wonder what God’s good, pleasing and perfect will is for me today!

The reason for that can be deduced from Romans 12:1-2,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

The reason we don’t think of God’s will as good, pleasing and perfect is probably because our minds are focused on a different definition of good, pleasing and perfect.. That should be freeing news in some ways. It’s not that God’s will is something to be feared; it is that God’s will is something that requires the right kind of mind—one that is not conformed to this world.

You might think that loving God’s will means loving God. That is not necessarily true. You can believe God, love God and even believe He cares for you and not love His will if you haven’t loved Him with all your mind. Loving God with all your heart is believing God is good, loving and kind. Loving God with all your mind is believing God is good and His ways are good.

Thomas Keating says, “…the prayer of the day asks that we be shown, the good, the acceptable, and the perfect will of God. This prayer suggests that there are three degrees of submission to the will of God. The good will of God is the will above every other affection. And the perfect will of God is his will above every other love including ourselves. ”[1] Keating didn’t make a suggestion about the acceptable will of God. I might add the acceptable will of God is when we respond to His will above our own will. We can only fully accept God’s will when our minds are transformed enough to believe His will is perfect and good.

If you are having trouble knowing the will of God, turn your attention to knowing the goodness of God. Your mind won’t accept what it doesn’t believe to be good. Oh that we could all honestly pray the prayer of St. Francis:

I offer myself to Thee to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties so that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help.
Of Thy power, Thy love and Thy way of life, may I do Thy will always. AMEN.

[1] Thomas Keating, The Daily Reader for Contemplative Living, (Continuum: New York, 2005), page 115



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