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The Problem with the Open Door

From Connect the Dots by Mike Hurt
One common, yet, potentially dangerous ways that we look for God’s will in our circumstances is by looking for the “open door.”  We talk about decisions we need to make like jobs, dating, buying a house, or whatever our concern of the day is.  When it is not clear what we should do, we begin to hope for and pray for God to show us what we should do by opening the door he wants for us to walk through and by closing the doors that he does not want for us to walk through.  

It goes something like this, “God if this is your will, I pray that you will open a door for me and keep me from making the wrong decision by closing every other door.”  This is the purest form of circumstantial evidence.  If the option remains, it must be from God.  While this sounds good at first, it presumes something that is very dangerous.  It presumes that every opportunity put before you is God’s opportunity for you.

King David shows us in 1 Samuel 24:3-7 that every “open door” is not God’s will for our lives.  Let’s pick up the story as Saul and 3000 of his men are pursuing David.  Saul entered a cave to relieve himself.  Really he did. David and his men were already in the cave in which Saul chose to take his potty break.    David had the opportunity to kill the king.  God had promised David that he would rule, but not like this and David knew it.  Instead of taking the king’s life, David cut off a piece from the King’s robe as a sign for what could have been.  Even this action, as minor as it may seem to you and me, was a big deal with David.  Afterward, Scripture teaches that David was grief stricken and forbid his men from hurting the king.  He learned a lesson that day and we should learn the same:  every opportunity is not God’s opportunity.  Sometimes you need to make decisions based on what you know of God rather than just what we see as a golden opportunity.

We know both from our experience and from Scripture that some options before us that remain open are not God’s choice for us and that he would never lead us to them.  These are the situations where an “open door” leads to sin.    James 1:13 is clear that God will never lead you into a situation that results in you sinning.  13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Before you walk through a door thinking that God has opened it for you, take a peek through the door and consider what this opportunity will do for your character and for your ability to obediently follow Christ.  If either of these two are compromised by taking this opportunity, then don’t take it.  It is not a door that God has opened for you.

So, how do you know if you are walking through God’s door for you?  Look for God’s activity not just a sign of his blessing.  The apostle Paul used the open door as one of the determining factors for when and where he would minister.  According for 1 Corinthians 16:9, he stayed in Ephesus because of an open door.  God’s activity was so clear.  He had no option but to stay.

Paul even prayed that God would continue to open doors for the Gospel.  Since his motive and message was pure, he could confidently walk through every door the Lord opened.  The lesson from Paul’s ministry and prayer life is clear: when looking for God’s will, don’t just look for opportunities to come and go.  Look for open doors that only God can open.  Look for God’s activity and go where he is.

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