Many times I have heard people justify not following one of His commands because if they did, they would not have the “heart” in it, they wouldn’t be joyful about it, etcetera. Most of the time, it’s even talked about as God’s will for their life simply because He allowed them the free will to choose it, despite His Word speaking plainly against it.
I’ve even said I didn’t have the heart, myself, at one very specific point. I remember saying it about forgiving the lawyers and jury when the criminal trial came back not guilty for a man very much guilty and needing to be kept away from children – that my heart just wasn’t in it, and so I couldn’t forgive them then.
Obedience to God is not just doing the actions He commands, but following His commands with the heart He has called us to cultivate.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
So many times, so many reasons:
- If mom/wife stayed home without a paying career, they would be bitter and feel unsatisfied.
- If they taught their child(ren) at home, they would feel stressed out, so it would just be “best” to send their kiddos off (and not have to deal with any sin issue in their own heart or their children’s).
- If they were to witness to others, they would feel nervous and “do a terrible job.”
- If they trusted God with their fertility, they would “go crazy” (His children are supposed to have the *mind of Christ,* so it seems difficult to me that a genuine Follower of Christ can “lose their mind,” when they have so strong a foundation)… if God wants to work through all their methods of birth control, sure they’ll “accept it,” but until then, they’re going to work really hard to prevent the children He designed to be the biological norm for marriage and that He calls wealth and blessings, while they work hard to accumulate financial “wealth,” which God calls a curse.
- If they stayed single and celibate, they would lose it and do something terrible in another area.
- It’s just too difficult to forgive… we wouldn’t really mean it (let’s forget we’ve been forgiven for far more by a gracious God).
“If I did X, Y, Z that God calls all Followers of Christ to, I would not be able to _______ or I would not have ______ in my heart that He tells me to have. I can’t obey Him AND have a content heart in this!”
O LORD, teach me how you want me to live! Then I will obey your commands. Make me wholeheartedly committed to you!
But… we’re called to do both… to both obey Him and do it with a joyful heart… and relying in His strength, we can.
Why do we so often justify inaction and outright disobedience to His commands for blessed living, based on our emotions? Thinking lately of the many times I have done this, heard this from others, and the countless times in human history it has been done… it makes my heart sad that we are such hypocrites. We say we are Followers of Christ, but when He calls us to live certain ways that we don’t really want to follow, we justify ourselves instead of admitting we are in rebellion against His commands. We are merely Believers in His sacrifice, but refuse to be true Followers of Christ (“You believe that there is one God. That’s fine! The demons also believe that, and they tremble with fear.” ~ James 2:19)
What we fail to realize is that God’s commands are NOT to burden us. They are to help us live beautifully. His plans are best, yet we act as though we know better. Constantly.
I am so encouraged by Followers who live out God’s call. My friend, Marie, said something awhile ago that encouraged me that there are beautiful, willing hearts for the Lord:
I’m learning how important it is to read the bible, not to be a ‘good Christian’ (not a good enough reason), but because it is filled with the important stuff God wants us to know in order to live fully in this depraved world, not trusting in the way the world thinks, but trusting in His ways.
I pray I allow God to cultivate this in my heart, that I choose to cultivate it in my own heart – that God’s Word can be trusted to guide us to full living and He can grant us joy in the midst of obeying Him.