Don’t Mistake God’s Judgment for the “Open Door”

Imagine that you are visiting a friend who lives in apartment complex. Though you know which complex he lives in, you don’t know the apartment number, so you start walking up and down the hallways where every door looks the same. You’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for – maybe that welcome mat he used to have years ago? Or some kind of nametag on mailbox? But there’s nothing like that – no marks of identification to let you know which door is the right one. But finally, after walking down two or three hallways you finally come to a door that looks like all the other ones… except it’s open.

What do you do?

I can tell you what you DON’T do – you don’t just walk right through it, assuming that it’s the right one just because it’s open. You’re smarter than that. That might be your friend’s door, but then again it might not. So you don’t assume; you knock. You examine. You still use your powers of deduction and wisdom to know whether or not that open door is the right one to enter in.

Every open door isn’t meant to be walked through. But that’s precisely the way many of us treat God’s will in our lives. We glimpse an opportunity, we have a feeling, we see the seemingly greener grasses through that open door, and because the door is open, we conclude that surely this is what God intends for us.

But let’s go a step further – what if it’s not only true that every open door shouldn’t be walked through – what if the door that opens might actually be God’s judgment rather than His approval?

Consider, for a moment, the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. The son in question was probably in his late teens since he was still single, and he found himself in maybe the same situation that many of us have discovered during our first weeks at college. Freedom came like a rushing wind, and there was the desire inside of him to test his limits. He looked around at his life, his gullible father, all the responsibility and decided that there was much more to the world for him to know. So he went to his dad and made a simple but a graphic demand. Literally, he told his father to give him his share of your life. The intention is clear – he wanted to sever his relationship with his old life and his family, for he in effect said to his father: “Treat me as if you were dead.” And how did the father respond?

With an open door:

“So he divided his property between them” (Luke 15:12).

In other words, the father gave his son what he wanted. Even though he knew it wouldn’t satisfy him. Even though he knew it would result in misery. Even though he knew his son would waste what he had been given. Even though he knew it meant the son would leave his house for the far country. He opened the door.

Any parent knows the painful truth of that – that sometimes, the only way your child is going to learn the pain of their choices is by giving them exactly what they want. So you open the door.

The open door in this case is not representative of God’s approval; it’s representative of His judgment. He is handing someone over to what they think they need, and in so doing, allowing them to experience the consequences. It reminds me of another New Testament passage, this one from Romans 1:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness… Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another (Rom. 1:18; 24).

God opened the door, and this opening is the means by which His wrath is being revealed. We look around us today and see it happening all the time. If we look hard enough, we can probably see it happening in ourselves. We become convinced that something – an action, a change, a move – something – is the one thing that will finally bring us fulfillment, and so we ask God for it. We beg Him for it. We justify in our own minds why it’s the good and right thing. And then we get it.

Perhaps much like the father in Luke 15, God gives us what we ask for.

Every open door isn’t meant to be walked through.

But that leaves us with a huge question, doesn’t it? How do you know? How do you know when to walk through the door and when not to?

The way you know if the open door is the right door is by comparing what you think God might be saying with what you know He has already said. God has revealed more than enough to us in His Word about to live that we have plenty to keep busy with. So regardless of what we might be feeling, regardless of what we might desire, regardless of what we might convince ourselves of, we have to step back and evaluate the door before us not based on what we perceive in the moment but what we know to be true.

God is the same now as He was then as He will be tomorrow. And if He said it then, He means it now. So how do you know if the door that’s open is the door for you?

Look to what God has already said. And then go with what you know rather than what you think.

Subscribe to

Never miss a new post. Subscribe to receive these posts in your inbox and to receive information about new discipleship resources.

You have successfully subscribed. Click here to download your bonus.