(Monday-Friday mornings, from my daily time of study and reflection, I will share with you what God is teaching me. I ask you then to join me in each day and pray that God will use our time to draw us to a deeper understanding of His will and His ways. Our objective is simple…to ‘see’ and ‘know’ the light and love of Christ Jesus..‘so that’ we will GO OUT and share the love of Christ Jesus with someone in that day….to GO and bear fruit …to be light to the world.)
Today’s Daily Light
God Isn’t Impressed with Your Duty –
The Willing and Eager Heart of Christianity
(article by David Mathis, Executive Editor, Desiring God Ministries)
One of the most liberating discoveries of my life has been coming to find that God does not pursue his people through coercion but by winning us from the heart. True Christianity cannot be coerced. God works — through his word and his Spirit — from the inside out. The faith “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) is indeed at its heart a faith, not an action, as it advances not by the sword of coercion and military campaign, but by the sword of the Spirit and the movement of souls.
God wants us to be willing, not feel obligated. His people rejoice to give willingly, with their whole hearts, “offering freely and joyously” to him (1 Chronicles 29:9, 17). He wants our generosity to be “as a willing gift, not as an exaction” (2 Corinthians 9:5). It is “a willing spirit” that tastes the joy of his salvation (Psalm 51:12), and it is a glory to our King when his people “offer themselves freely” to his worship and service (Psalm 110:3). Christian faith cannot be forced. God wants to win us from within, and empower Christians by his Spirit to live willing, freely, from the heart.
Not for Shameful Gain
But “inside out” alone is not enough. Some desires of the heart are holy, righteous, and good; others are not. Whereas “compulsion” or “force” comes from the outside, the desire for “shameful gain” comes from within. So 1 Peter 5:2 is not just saying don’t be forced from without, but also don’t be driven from within by sinful (selfish) desires, but rather by righteous desire.
So, what does it mean to be motivated by shameless desire, instead of shameful? C.S. Lewis helps us with the nature of rewards and righteous desire in the Christian life:
There are rewards that do not sully motives. A man’s love for a woman is not mercenary because he wants to marry her, nor his love for poetry mercenary because he wants to read it, nor his love of exercise less disinterested because he wants to run and leap and walk. Love, by its very nature, seeks to enjoy its object. (The Problem of Pain)
It is not enough that we would live simply from desire and willingness, and not compulsion and obligation. We want to live from righteous desire, not for shameful or sinful gain — desire that is fitting to its object. But don’t think that means we do not live for gain!
God wants us to be eager. He commends those who, like the faithful Bereans, receive his word “with all eagerness” (Acts 17:11). Paul himself modeled it: eager to preach the gospel (Romans 1:15), eager to remember the poor (Galatians 2:10), eager to see his converts face to face (1 Thessalonians 2:17), eager to honor Christ in life and in death (Philippians 1:20). Paul lived with a kind of heart hunger, a kind of holy discontent, and a kind of contagious eagerness that came from his pursuit of shameless (not shameful) gain. He lived out a life of righteous desire given by the Spirit, with love for, and enjoyment in, the object of his pursuit.
As God Would Have You
But the best phrase of all in 1 Peter 5:2 sits right in the middle: “not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly.” God himself is like this. God himself does not act from compulsion. God himself is not moved by shameful gain. And this is how he wants it to be for us too.
The one true God is the willing and eager God. “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3). “Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps” (Psalm 135:6). God does not save his people reluctantly or under compulsion. “I will rejoice in doing them good,” he says in Jeremiah 32:41, “with all my heart and all my soul.”
He is not like the gods of the nations. We cannot force his hand. We cannot compel him by our actions to do anything contrary to his heart. We don’t change him. He changes us. Which is magnificent when he is, literally, “the happy God” (1 Timothy 1:11).
God lives and works in our world, and in our lives, not from obligation or from shady motives, but willingly and eagerly, free and shameless, unforced and indomitably happy. Our God is not constrained by duty. He is the God of great delight. And so he would have it be for us as well —or all who call upon his name.