The Intangentiality of the Will of God

Intangentiality?  Okay, so I made up the word. I couldn’t find it in my trusty Webster’s but maybe a little meaning can be dissected out of it:

  • (in) opposite
  • (tangent) touching at the outer edge i.e. a straight line just barely touching a circle
  • (iality) the “fluff” part of the word – sounds good but doesn’t mean a thing

A recent sermon, “Under-Construction Priorities”, was interesting. Referencing Eph 5:15-21, the sermon related to establishing God-honoring priorities which will help stifle human folly and establish spiritual wisdom. The NIV Topical Bible breaks chapters and verses into a general context and the theme for this passage, which actually begins at Eph 4:17 (and ends at Eph 5:21) is titled, “Living as Children of Light”. A cursory reading reveals a lot of “to-do’s” including:

Don’t live as the Gentiles do

Put off the old self (deceitful desires)

Put on the new self (righteousness and holiness)

Speak truthfully

Don’t let the sun go down while you’re still angry

Don’t steal

No trash-talking (unwholesome chit-chat)

Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit

Lose the bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander

Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving

Be imitators of God

Live a life of love

Live a life of purity (not even a hint of sexual immorality)

No obscene or foolish talking or coarse joking

Exercise caution – be wise

Make the most of opportunities

Don’t be foolish

Understand what the Lord’s will is (emphasis mine)

Don’t get drunk

Be filled with the Spirit

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs

Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord

Always give thanks to God for everything

Submit to one another

Why does Paul mention something about God’s will in the middle of all this “behavior” stuff? Is the placement of the phrase, “understand what the Lord’s will is” – between “don’t be foolish” and “don’t get drunk” significant? I’m not sure. However, my overall sense is that the will of God is not something tangent to one’s faith. Rather, the will of God can be easily recognized and understood and is front-and-center in how we conduct our lives. Paul isn’t teaching us to discover God’s will for some decision we need to make (here or in other passages such as Romans 12) by “praying in earnest”, “seeking wise counsel”, or “accurately interpreting one’s circumstances”. Many Christians talk about the will of God as it relates to a whole host of non-moral decisions in their lives such as:

  • Should I go to a Christian college?
  • Whom should I marry?
  • What career should I pursue?
  • Is it the right time to buy (or sell) a house?
  • Should I get my tubes tied?
  • Is God leading me to attend a Baptist church?

Regarding all the “stuff” that makes up our lives, does the grace of God allow believers to make decisions they deem best? Is the passage evidence that God is more concerned with how we live instead of how (or whether) we seek His direction on non-moral “things”? I like a comment from a previous post and think it’s applicable: “It’s grace. All grace.”

Criticisms invited if you think I’m in error.


Author: Bob

I’m an upper Midwestern guy who has recently entered the "Buick stage" of life and decided to migrate to Florida. This blog is an attempt to rectify discordant aspects within my Christian faith ... or what often feels like my lack of Christian faith. Things which make life more enjoyable include strong black coffee, charcoal grilling anytime of the year, putz'ing at a table saw, playing chess, a good orthopedic surgeon and an occasional IPA. Please feel free to poke around and comment as you wish. I welcome discussion and the insights of others.

3 thoughts on “The Intangentiality of the Will of God”

  1. Intangentiality? Word wants to correct it to Tangentially. I’m not sure I even know what that means!

  2. Well, as I see it, Word is providing you with two options:

    Tan (light brown in color)
    gential (genial to a ‘T’)
    ly (the fluff part of the word that means nothing

    Tang (the stuff astronauts used to drink)
    entially (the fluff part of the word that means nothing

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