Question:

I'm really grateful to you for leading me so far. There's just a really big problem in my life right now and I know you already answered many aspects of it. It just seems like it's crushing me with its weight. When I work in school, it stills feels like I'm going further away from God. For example, my friend told me that everything I do must be in God's name and must be beneficial to His kingdom. But what about if I was interested in drawing and wanted to learn drawing even though it's not particularly beneficial to God's kingdom what so ever? I'm kind of asking if it was ok to do things which benefits me, and if so what balance could it be. Also, I have been asking my friends whom I respect as devoted Christians and one of them told me that the reason I'm having all these problems is because I'm trying to reason with it in worldly wisdom. He further told me that if I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me then everything would be spontaneously answered. I prayed many times for the Holy Spirit but I don't really get what it is. How am I suppose to recognize it or follow it?

Answer:

Many times I correspond with people, wishing that we could talk one-on-one because so many small issues could be handled so much easier in this fashion. But let's work through a few of the ones you raised.

Paul told us, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17). The phrase "in the name of" means "by the authority of." You can see this in Acts 4. The apostles were asked, "By what power or by what name have you done this?" (Acts 4:7). The council wanted to know who authorized their action. Who told them they could do this? Peter answered, "let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole" (Acts 4:10). Peter stated that Jesus Christ authorized their action.

We use this concept all the time. That is why people have to sign their name to documents. The presence of your name shows that you authorized or give approval to the contents of what is written.

Some Bible translations use an old word for sin, "iniquity," to translate the Greek word anomia. The word is a compound of a (against) and nomia (name). Thus iniquity is acting against the name or acting without authority. For instance, in Matthew 7:23, anomia is translated "lawlessness." "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Matthew 7:23). There is no law, no authority behind the person's actions. Sin is acting without law behind one's actions. "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered" (Romans 4:7).

Thus, when Paul says to do everything in the name of Jesus, he is saying that everything we do is to be under the law or authority of Jesus. He is saying that everything we do is to be without sin (lawlessness).

So, when a person works for a living, that is in the name of Jesus, because the Bible teaches us, "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (II Thessalonians 3:10). That is why Paul told servants, "Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free" (Ephesians 6:5-8). In other words, digging ditches for a boss is giving service to the Lord. We are earning a living, as the Lord commands, and we are representing the Lord to others as they see us give good service.

Your education is your preparation for the workplace. See the article "On Being Educated" to see more about what the Bible teaches about learning.

I know of no verse commanding us to only do things we perceive as being beneficial to God's kingdom. Instead, what we find is at the conclusion of a discussion on worrying, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). What is being taught is that we need proper priorities. If we put God's kingdom first in our lives, then other small things, such as food, clothing, and shelter, will be taken care of without need of worry. Such doesn't mean that we do not need to work, buy food, or watch our budget.

Thus, when asked to work the weekend, I tell my boss that I can, but I'm going to take a long lunch hour to go to services. I have never had a boss object, in fact I was told to take the time off in addition to my lunch break.

If you love to draw, learn to draw. You can used your illustrations for books that teach about God. You could use them to illustrate sermons. An acquaintance of mine from years back was a cartoonist and a preacher. He had the best illustrated charts I've seen. But even if you are doing drawings that are not directly religious in nature, know that your work ethic and personal skills in relating to customers are illustrating in your life what being a Christian is all about.

Of course following God's way is going to benefit you. That is why God gave us His laws. Ancient Israel was told, "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12-13). When you look for a wife, you will be looking for a benefit for yourself, but that is what God wants for you. "He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD" (Proverbs 18:22).

The Holy Spirit is who guided the apostles and profits into recording the Word of God. "But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God" (I Corinthians 2:9-10). Our Bible is the guidance of the Holy Spirit. "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:19-21).

So many people believe they are directly guided by the Holy Spirit in their day to day life, but by this they actually mean they do as they feel and feel that this is the Spirit's leading. Sadly they so often completely ignore the Spirit's teaching in the Scriptures and thus not allowing their lives to be led by the Spirit. Following the commands of God is being led by the Spirit. ""Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me." Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go. Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea"" (Isaiah 48:16-18).

People don't often like this simple explanation. They want something mysterious. They want justification for their personal feelings. They want to act without thought. But God wants people who are willing to follow His teachings. It is these which will judge us and not our feelings. "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48).