Have To or Willing?

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve, not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:2-3.

I get the same results but it one case I got there willingly while in another case I had to do it.

Think of those summer reading assignments from your school days.  Some, maybe all (?), of it was hard labor.  You would rather not do it, but you knew that in September you would be held accountable…….so you did the reading.  However, imagine if the readings assigned were about something that really interested you.  You also would get the reading done.  So, the result is similar but the motivation isn’t.

Believers will agree that pleasing God is an important goal for each of us.  I think that each of us, in our own way, strive for this.  But let’s check our motivation.  If you are doing what God wants because you want to and I’m doing what God wants because I have to, I’m going about it all wrong.

Some of the fundamental Christian activities are impacted by our motivation.  I’m thinking about Bible reading and prayer.  If they become a “discipline,” I think something is missing.

The middle of today’s verse has, “not because you must, but because you are willing.”  My willingness should drive my Bible reading life and my prayer life.  Are they special enough to me so that there is no self-coercion involved?

When I look at how my life is going spiritually, I can almost always ascertain my spiritual status by the way my Bible reading and my prayer life are going.

Maybe this is oversimplified, but when I am living close to God, I can’t wait to read/meditate on His Word.  I’ll get up early to make it happen or stay up later at night to do the same thing.

My best prayer life is not necessarily in that routine.  Mine works best when I’m in an ongoing conversation with God.  When something comes up I immediately recognize via praying that I am glad that He is on hand.  Our relationship is wide open and often without my eyes being closed.

My life must be totally surrendered to God.  A willingness to do whatever He wants flows naturally from such a relationship.

Conclusion: Self-coercion has no place as a motivator for doing Godly things.  Falling totally in love with Him leads directly to a true willingness to please Him.

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