My Will or His
I am impressed with Abraham’s servant who is mentioned in Genesis chapter 24. To this man Abraham gives the crucial task of finding a wife for Isaac, no small matter when we realize that this woman and Isaac would be the next link in the Messianic line. What impresses me is that even though he is Abraham’s servant, he has his own faith in God. He prays (24:12) – like His master, he simply believes in God. And secondly, he seems to be all about His master’s business. He appears to be empty of himself. Clearly, he did have a life, maybe even a family, yet all of that is set aside to perform this important task for someone else. I do not find any hint of the modern attitude, “what’s in it for me?”
“I’ve Got Mine?”
“Even among Christians – or should I say, even though I am a Christian – there is a streak of ‘I’ve got mine’. There is a tendency to be OK with the world as long as ‘I’ve got mine’: I have a decent job, I have a respectable family, I have passable intelligence, I have passable looks, I have enough friends... It’s the feeling of finding a seat when the music stops in ‘musical chairs’” (Andree Seu). The same is true with it comes to government programs – I am okay with a bailout or government program, just as long as “I’ve got mine”. It seems like this is the world that we are presently living in, “I really don’t care who is left holding the bag or short-changed, as long as, “I’ve got mine”. This is the complete opposite attitude of Abraham’s servant. He was absorbed in the master’s will. With the society that surrounds us being absorbed in their own will, this has always been the challenge. Whose “will” – will dominate, ours or God’s?
The Example of Jesus
In the book of Philippians I discover that before Jesus came to the earth He already had a great life, “although He existed in the form of God” (Philippians 2:6). Yet Jesus did not have the attitude, “Hey, I’ve got Mine”. He set aside His privileges and came to this world to die for our sins (Philippians 2:7-8). Listen to the beauty in the following statements Jesus Himself made:
“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34).
In other words, what sustains Me, gives My life meaning and purpose, serves as my energy and nourishing, what I live for, is to do the will of the Father and accomplish His purposes. In light of such a passage, we should not be shocked when we find that we are living among many people who are stubbornly following their own wills, yet at the same time they are starving to death spiritually, emotionally and mentally. How many people do you know are living completely for themselves and yet say at the same time, “I hate my life”?
“I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30).
“For I have come down out of heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38).
“In the roll of the book it is written of Me, to do Thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7).
The Decision I Must Make
Too many people have the idea that Jesus did all the sacrificing and dying so that we don’t have to do anything difficult, yet this is not what Jesus taught. The attitude that He displayed in being absorbed in doing the Father’s will, is the same attitude He expects in His disciples:
“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
The Benefits of Living for Him
A More Exciting Life
Look back at Abraham’s servant. The text says, “Who had charge of all that he owned” (24:2). If you want maturity, personal growth, excellence in your life, and responsibility, then start living for God. This man’s journey with Abraham had taken him on a 1000 mile journey to a new land. It had involved him in battles (Genesis 14) and a very enriched life. There was no poverty of soul in this journey, and even in old age, there were new challenges and tasks.
Look at Luke 9:24 once again: “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it”. I am impressed that Jesus universally applies this – a statement that only God could make. There are no exceptions to this rule. Live for yourself – and one will lose “life”. Live for self and one will end up saying things like, “I hate my life”. Live for self and one will find that nothing makes one happy any more. Live for God and one will find “life”. Someone noted that seeing that this is God’s universe, what is typically said or occurs will only confirm the truthfulness of God’s word and His will. Even when the non-Christian speaks, often he or she will inadvertently confirms some biblical truth. Today’s example comes from American author David Foster Wallace. He said, “In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everyone worships. The only choice is what to worship... and an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship... is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things – if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly”. David Foster Wallace committed suicide on September 12, 2008.
A Deeper Life
Far from the attitude of, “I’ve got mine”, the Apostle Paul said, “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:1-3). Wow! Here is a man who knew the true value and absolute joy and peace of having Christ (Philippians 1:21,23), and then being torn between that and being cut off from Christ so that others could be saved. Which kind of life do you want? Do you want to become the person who says, “Hey, everyone else is on their own, including my mate and kids. I am going to make sure I get mine”. Or, do you want to become the person who is willing to give all in order that friends and family, even foes are saved? To which person would you want to be married – the person whose attitude is, “If you get less attractive, poor, or senile – I’m gone” or, “You are stuck with me – I will always be here by your side”.
A Real Life
“Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house... and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously” (Daniel 6:10).
No matter what the situation, Daniel did not change, would you like to be like that, simply someone who is real, genuine and natural. “The man he was in normal times outside the glaring spotlight is the same man he was in times of persecution or public scrutiny. No need to turn on proselytizing like a facet. Just as natural as you please” (Andree Seu). Living for God means that you don’t have to pretend or put on an act – which gets really tiring after a while.
This Is Me!
Seeing that we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), to do anything other than live for the will of our Creator would mean we are acting in a manner that is not truly us. The devil has convinced a lot of people that doing their own thing is the real or authentic them, but it isn’t. What a tragedy to live for self all your life and then find out that the “you” – you created was a fake. It wasn’t the real you after all. I am reminded of this truth when the Prodigal Son came to his senses(Luke 15:17). The young man who left and lived it up (15:13) was not the real him. The authentic person was the young man standing, humbled and contrite in the pig pen. When he said, “Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me” (15:12), that was his bending of the knee to evil. When he said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight” (15:21), that was the soul made in the image of God speaking, that was bending the knee to the will of the Father. When I live life according to God’s will and not my own, I discover in the course of living, that He knows what will make me happy in this world more than I know what will make me happy. How much more will bending my knee to His will prepare me for happiness in eternity.