More Than Doing
Behold, my servants shall sing for gladness of heart.(Isaiah 65:14)
Generally speaking, we are in God’s will whenever we are leading the kind of life He wants for us. And that leaves a lot of room for initiative on our part, which is essential: our individual initiatives are central to His will for us.
Of course, we cannot fail to do what He wants us to do and yet be still in His will. And quite apart from any specific directions He may give us there are many ways of living and being that are clearly not in His will. The Ten Commandments given to Moses are so deep and powerful on these matters that if humanity followed them, daily life would be transformed beyond recognition, and large segments of the public media would collapse for lack of material. Consider a daily newspaper or television newscast and eliminate from it every report that presupposes a breaking of one of the Ten Commandments. Very little will be left.
But one who inquires seriously after God’s guidance must never forget that even if one were to do all the particular things God wants and explicitly commands us to do, one might still not be the personGod would have one to be. It is always true that “ the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life”.(2 Corinthians 3:6). An obsession merely with doing all God commands may be the very thing that rules out being the kind of person He calls us to be,
What God wants us to do is very important, of course, and we must be careful to learn how to know it and do it, but it is never enough by itself to allow us to understand and enter the radiant life before the shining face of God that is offered to us in the grace of the gospel- a life pleasing to Him, in view of which He can, “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus in speaking with the disciples told them that their righteousness had to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. In the Sermon on the Mount He took the Ten Commandments from an external practice to an internal heart issue. Over and over again Christ emphasized the relationship with God and the relationship with others is the a heart matter and not a rule of law. Paul in his letter to the Romans stresses that the life of a born again believer working by grace and faith and not just complying with the letter of the law is what captures the essence of God’s desire for us.
In the Garden there was a strong relationship with God and one rule. In the wilderness we and the Israelites received ten rules but a more distant relationship. The contrast between these two interrelationships between God and man is obvious and are the two choices we may make today. We can choose to walk with God in a personal way. We can pursue His presence and seek His face. We can choose to talk with Him as our closest friend and companion. We can live in a father-child relationship with God. In other words we have the choice of relationship in which we seek ways to please God. We live and act always with the thought of whether or not this pleases God. We can choose to live to please Him not out of some demand but out of knowing Him and loving Him.
We can also choose to distant ourselves from Him, as the Israelites did, and choose a rule driven relationship. I believe we know from their experience and ours that no one has been successful in obeying the rules all the time. We can choose to see Him as a hard taskmaster who demands our service and obedience as the Jews of Jesus’ day viewed Him. We can see Him as master and ourselves as servants as the elder brother in the story of the prodigal saw his father.
I choose the former, to walk with my Heavenly Father who is constantly seeking ways to bless me as I continually seek ways to bring Him pleasure with my life.
Dr. John Thompson