The Importance of Willingness
I have been aware of God and a desire to love Him for most of my adult life, often expressing to Him that all I want is a love relationship with Him and Jesus. While my expression to God was true, I struggled with feeling like I didn’t measure up. I would have ‘ups and downs’ trying with my own effort to reach a perceived Godly standard and then feel bad when I fell short of that standard. This “roller-coaster” way of living gives nothing to God and because it is focussed on me and my efforts it actually separates me from God. Through all of this God has been patiently waiting for me to live in His truth that I am loved, saved, redeemed and, through Jesus, can live in a personal love relationship with Him.
My genuine desire to love God above all else, to live in all that Jesus has done for me and to be led by His Spirit has no substance without the willingness to actually do it
What I’ve discovered with God in recent years, is that my genuine desire to love God above all else, to live in all that Jesus has done for me and to be led by His Spirit has no substance without the willingness to actually do it. Over the years I’d pray passionately to God, giving Him the desires of my heart, hoping that He would then do something miraculous in me, to change my life and ease my struggles with myself. I was expecting and hoping that God would do something that isn’t His to do, to bypass what only I can do – to willingly step out in faith and believe Him alone. My desire for Him was there, but I wasn’t willing to love and believe Him above my fears, insecurities and misgivings. My heartfelt expression to Him wasn’t founded on my absolute trust and belief in Him alone, to the exclusion of everything else.
As John said in 1 John 3:18 (NIV) – “Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth”
So, while it’s important to express our love, its fulfilment is found through the acts of love.
John is emphasising here the difference between desire and willingness – that our desire to love is expressed in what we say, but it’s our willingness to love that gives it substance. Willingness is expressed through actions and in truth. Truth is the reality of how we live. So, while it’s important to express our love, its fulfilment is found through the acts of love. Everyday I can tell my wife I love her, which is a true expression of my love for her, but if I’m not living in that love for her day to day – by laying down my life for her and choosing to love her above myself – the expression has no substance and does nothing for our relationship. This is what John means by the word ‘truth’, there is only truth in what we say, when what we say is made true in our lives and our relationships by the way we choose to live.
When God speaks to us our responses can be limited by the way we see ourselves and our circumstances. But this is a faithless response which effectively says to God ‘I believe what you say for the most part, but some of it isn’t true of me or my situation’. In other words, it’s refusing to believe God. I’ve always had a strong desire to be everything I could be for God, for Him to be reflected in the way I live. What became clear to me was that I hadn’t been willing to abandon everything first, to turn my back on what I’ve seen as the truth about myself, and face God and Jesus and fully embrace their truth about me. When God called Gideon to save Israel, God referred to him as a “Mighty man of valour” (Judges 6:12 KJV), this was not at all how Gideon viewed himself and he quickly let God know that he must be speaking to the wrong person because he was from the weakest clan and was “the least in his father’s house” (Judges 6:15 KJV). Gideon had a simple choice, was he going to believe what God said to him or refuse Him? But to say “yes” to God meant saying “no” to all he felt about himself, abandoning his limited perspective and believing by faith all that God had said. Because Gideon faithfully did that despite how he saw himself, he fulfilled God’s call on his life.
The reality is that if we’ve accepted Jesus into our hearts, Jesus has already given us everything we need – we are saved, forgiven and redeemed through His life, death and resurrection
For a long time I have believed the lie that there is something missing, or that there is something more I needed from God before I could freely live for Him as I desired. Though that is how I genuinely felt, it was also convenient for me because it always gave me an excuse – something beyond me and out of my control – for not living in my own heart’s desires. Believing this lie is faithless and leaves a gap between us and God. The reality is that if we’ve accepted Jesus into our hearts, Jesus has already given us everything we need – we are saved, forgiven and redeemed through His life, death and resurrection. He also freely gives the Holy Spirit to all who ask and believe, so we each have within us God’s Spirit which enables and equips us. If we want, we can go around in circles searching for something that is already there, when the only thing lacking, is a willingness to take our eyes off ourselves and believe in everything that God has said by faith. There is nothing more we need, there is only more to discover as we spend our lives growing in spiritual maturity with Jesus.
Of course, God could very easily remove all my insecurities, fears, doubts and misgivings – as He could have for Gideon – but then faith and belief would also be removed. And with faith and belief gone so is the ability to love. Instead, our God lovingly leaves us with imperfection and free will so that we always have the opportunity to choose God instead of ourselves. His vast eternal perspective over our own limited one. He doesn’t expect us to ‘get over’ our problems or get better at being giving, less selfish people, He simply longs for us to take our focus off ourselves and “look full in His wonderful face”, like the song tells us. This change of focus doesn’t make the things of our flesh disappear, it simply puts them in their place, reducing them to irrelevant shadows in God’s revealing light.
None of this should be hard work because a love relationship with God isn’t arduous – it’s freeing and life giving
The life that God offers us with Him is so far beyond anything we could possibly imagine when we are attuned to Him, responsive to His words and obedient to all He says. None of this should be hard work because a love relationship with God isn’t arduous – it’s freeing and life giving. I’m not saying it will never feel like hard work but, when it does, it’s because we have put something of ourselves in the way of God’s love and our pure response to Him. All we need to do is identify what we’ve put in the way, then be willing to remove it for the sake of relationship with Him.
If your life isn’t a true reflection of what you say you want, don’t be dis-heartened or look to God to do it for you. Remember He has already done everything He can and continues to do so. Instead, look at what you haven’t been willing to do and with God in front of you, Jesus beside you and the Holy Spirit inside you step forward in faith, confident in God and all that He has said.
– Joel Kiefte