God’s guidance in our work (Psalm 25)

Bible Commentary / Produced by TOW Project

Human life is a series of choices, and many of these involve vocation. We should develop the habit of taking all such decisions to God. Psalm 25:12 teaches, “Who are they that fear the Lord? He will teach them the way that they should choose.” How does God teach us the way to choose? Psalm 25 notes several ways, beginning with “Make me to know your ways, O Lord. Lead me in your truth, and teach me” (Ps. 25:4-5). This requires reading the Bible regularly, the primary way we get to know God’s ways and learn his truth. Once we know God’s ways, we need to put them into practice without needing special guidance from God in most cases. “The paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness for those who keep his covenant and decrees” (Ps. 25:10). His covenant and decrees are found, of course, in the Bible.

“Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions,” adds Psalm 25:7. Confessing our sins and asking God’s mercy is another way we receive guidance from God. When we are honest with God—and ourselves—about our sins, it opens the door for God’s guidance in our hearts. “Pardon my guilt,” and “forgive all my sins” the psalm asks (Ps. 25:11, 18). When we are forgiven by God, it frees us to cease trying to justify ourselves, which otherwise is a powerful barrier to God’s guidance. Similarly, humbleness in our dealings with God and people gets us beyond the defensiveness that blocks God’s guidance. “He leads the humble in his way,” Psalm 25:9 informs us.

“My eyes are ever toward the Lord,” continues the psalm (Ps 25:15).We receive God’s guidance when we look for evidence about the things God cares about, such as justice, faithfulness, reconciliation, peace, faith, hope and love. (The psalm does not name these particular items—they are examples from other parts of the Bible.) “May integrity and uprightness preserve me,” says Psalm 25:21. Integrity means living all of life under a coherent set of values, rather than, for example, being honest and compassionate with our families, but deceitful and cruel with our customers or co-workers. Thinking clearly about how to apply our highest values at work thus turns out to be a means of God’s guidance, at least to the degree that our highest values are formed by scripture and faithfulness to Christ.

Although these means of guidance may seem abstract, they can be very practical when we put them to use in workplace situations. The key is to be specific in our Bible study, confession, prayer, and moral reasoning. When we bring our actual, specific work situations to God and God’s word, we may find God answering with the specific guidance we need. For more about God’s guidance in relation to our vocation or calling in work, see “Discerning God’s guidance to a particular kind of work” in Vocation Overview at www.theologyofwork.org.