The word “God-ward” is only found three times in the Bible, yet each time it signifies a life choice — a decision to do what is best for the kingdom of God rather than serve selfish means.
Moses is one of the great heroes of the Old Testament. He was born a slave; his life was saved as a baby through God’s providence; he became a murderer; and he had to flee Egypt. Later, he returned at God’s command to lead the people of God to the Promised Land. After receiving the Ten Commandments from God and leading the people well, Moses was the judge and ruler of the people. They brought all their disagreements to him to settle their disputes. Everyone trusted his judgment, and the lines were long with people waiting to receive justice for their various causes. Frankly, Moses was worn out. Moses was speaking with his respected father-in-law, who gave him some Godly advice.
“And Moses' father-in-law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said.” (Ex 18:17-24, KJV).
In this story, we learn that to be God-ward means to know when to delegate, when to train those who will come behind us and carry on the ways of the Lord, when to realize that it is not about us, but about God. Moses was never an arrogant man, but he had learned the hard way to follow God at all costs, and the leadership position was hard to let go. With his great faith and trust in God, he hadn’t realized (until his conversation with his father-in-law) that he wasn’t trusting God to provide the same faith for others to lead as well.
The second instance to find God-ward is in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul points out that we are each epistles/letters about Christ (not as a book to read) but our lives living in His Spirit, shining forth as a living testimony of Christ Jesus.
“Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.” (2 Cor 3:3-5).
We are not self-sufficient. A great Biblical scholar once wrote that when we think we are self-sufficient, it is the utmost arrogance toward God. He is our source for everything — our sufficiency is in Him, not in ourselves.
Finally, the third appearance of God-ward is also from Paul, when he points out to the church in Thessalonia (and to us) that we didn’t just hear the Gospel, it came to us in word and in the power of the Holy Ghost. We knew it in our hearts that what we were hearing was Truth and from God.
“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were examples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” (I Thess 1:5-10).
God-ward here means that we have turned from our old ways, and we now serve the Living God through the sacrifice of Jesus, whom God raised from the dead, to deliver us. We await His return.
In summary, God-ward is Biblically defined as looking to the future (and sometimes present) needs, and training up those who will help us now and keep the Christ light burning for the future. God-ward is to know and live believing that God is our sufficiency, not self-sufficiency; and to always live open-books/lives so that anyone can tell we Christians are awaiting Christ’s return.