Here’s a parable:
There was a young man who loved Jesus. His ministry with people was growing and God was doing great things. As he hit his mid twenties he was still single. He began to pray and ask God what the deal was. As he prayed and talked to others it seemed as if God was calling him to celibate ministry.
But this man didn’t want that. He kept dating and eventually fell in love with a great lady. Once again, in his heart he felt like God was calling him to celibate ministry but he was in love and he shoved down God’s call. He married this lady and decided to not even do full time ministry.
He went to work for McDonald’s. He started as a mid level manager and then moved up to running his own store. Now somewhere along the way, he again sought God. He turned back and repented of his disobedience and sought God for how he should live. He ran his store in a Godly way. He loved his workers and many came to know Jesus. Because his workers were so good his store was the best in the state. People would drive a little further to go to “that” McDonald’s. He and the staff knew customers’ names and what they liked to order. Some of them even came to know Jesus.
On top of all of this the man loved his wife well. They had kids and they grew up loving Jesus and loving others. God blessed them in all sorts of ways. Was this God’s plan?
One of the huge traps for any part of life, but perhaps especially singleness and marriage is this idea that whatever happens is God’s plan. The idea that whatever happens must be what God wants, which in my opinion really means it’s never my fault.
“I’m single right now, must be where God has me.” “I can’t help that I like this guy, even though he leads me away from what God is calling me to.” “God wouldn’t let me have these feelings if it wasn’t His plan.” Or my favorite, ‘God let me sin this way so that. . . .”
God doesn’t need you to sin in order to show you something or use later in ministry. He shows us stuff and uses us in His kingdom IN SPITE of our sin. It’s called grace.
In the parable above it worked out, sort of. But that doesn’t mean that the man wasn’t disobedient to God’s call. It means that God’s grace was bigger than his disobedience. It means that God worked something that was a bad decision into a good one. God’s grace is not the same as God’s plan.
So why does this matter? Isn’t this basically a theological argument?
It matters because we shouldn’t assume stuff will work out anyway. Yes God’s grace is always available but not always in the way we think. We especially need to be careful in what we tell others.
“My wife and I had sex before marriage. I know it was wrong but it’s worked out. We’re following God now.” “My wife wasn’t a believer when we got married. But she became one later and now we are on the same page.” “We just couldn’t stay married anymore. But now God has provided someone else.” If we share it as testament to God’s Grace, that’s awesome. If we share it to excuse ours or someone else’s sin, that’s not so good.
Just because God rescues it and it turns out ok doesn’t make what we did right. Disobedience is just that. God’s sovereignty and grace are not a license to do what we want.
This is very important as we walk with others. We shouldn’t advise sin or tell people its ok. In the example above it wouldn’t be good for this man to tell people, “Go ahead and blow off God’s call, you can always repent later.”
Most of the time disobeying God’s call, especially when it comes to what we know for sure to be his commands biblically, doesn’t work out that well. As an example, for every couple that lives together first and later ends up in a life long marriage there a bunch that don’t. Why stack the odds against yourself?
Obviously we all sin and make bad choices. I know for sure I have and do. That doesn’t mean we should excuse it, and we sure as heck shouldn’t advise it. Using God’s grace to justify sin is not ok.
What we can do is advise against it. We can point out God’s grace and how as we’ve turned to Him, He has blessed us. It means there is hope in absolutely any situation. Instead of justifying the mistakes, let’s focus on God’s grace and use it as a platform to save others.