Maybe it’s true for you like it is for me, that many of the things in life that I know I should do I just don’t do because I don’t feel like it. Although there are numerous things in my life that I could use as an example, food and exercise is something that most people can relate to. In my case, I frequently eat more of the foods I shouldn’t eat, and less of the things I should. I have disciplined myself to exercise on a regular basis, but I still find myself too often not really “feeling like doing it.” Of course I like the results, but sometimes the yummy chocolate chip cookie wins the wrestling contest in my mind between tantalizing my taste buds or my desire for a smaller belt size.
The fact is that most people don’t do things that they don’t feel like doing. Like me, many people can be downright stubborn about not doing something they don’t want to do. I was recently confronted in a showdown of stubbornness when I told my five year old that it was bath time, to which he promptly replied, “but I don’t feeeeeel like it.” I would think that by now he would know that a pintsize person weighing only fifty pounds and three feet high is no match for adult man pushing 215 pounds and six feet high. In spite of his feeble whimpers he quickly found himself sitting waist high in a tub of warm water. His tears soon turned to joyful splashes as he forgot all about how much he didn’t “feel” like taking a bath. Amazingly, like my child, time and time again we don’t do what God tells us to do, even thought we know it’s best, just because we too “don’t feel like it.”
Every parent knows that children must be directed and guided. If the decision on what they eat was left up to them, many would choose a diet of candy, cookies, or cake, because that is what they “feel” like. Thank goodness parents, understanding that a diet like that would soon lead to malnutrition and sickness, can insist on a balanced dietary regimen of meat, vegetables and everything else required for their growing bodies. God, like a good parent, tells us what to do because He knows it is what is best for us. Our flesh and sin nature deceive us into thinking that following God’s commands constrains our ability to enjoy ourselves. God is never trying to limit us, but to set us free. Putting off the appetites of the flesh always leads to freedom. Giving in to our sin-driven desires is like having little foxes sneak into our vineyards and steal away the good fruit on our vines. We have the freedom to make choices, but the choices we make should lead to freedom. When we do our hearts are set free.
I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.
As we mature in Christ we realize that our lives are no longer our own. We were bought at a great price and now we have an obligation to live for him by letting him live through us. This requires much discipline, but as I heard a wise person once say, “Discipline is what frees me from the tyranny of my flesh.” We are no longer to be ruled by our emotions, feelings, or desires. As we grow in Christ we learn that what is important is not what we “feel” or “want,” but what he wants. True freedom is realized when we live in obedience, despite our feelings.
Living the exchanged life means that our priorities become God’s priorities. It is a life that is filled with doing what Jesus “wants,” not what I want. Jesus didn’t “feel” like being tortured for more than forty hours. Nor did he “feel” like enduring the pain of the cross, but he did it because that is what God asked him to do. The agony he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane makes this pretty clear. Like Christ, whenever we are confronted with doing something that we know God wants us to do, yet we do not feel like it, the refrain of the exchanged heart is, “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26: 39).
In many ways living in the power of God is as simple as making the choice to let Christ live through you. What that means is that you will do what he wants you to do, when he wants you to do it, and how he wants it done. We all have plenty of practice living for ourselves and pursuing the pleasures of the flesh, but living the exchanged life requires us to discipline ourselves to choose light over darkness, good over evil, and truth instead of error. We can be honest with God and tell Him when we don’t “want” to do something, but still we must say, “I will.”
Meeting together is a great place to practice being “willing.” Let’s face it, coming home from a hard day’s work and then having to head out for an evening meeting is something that we sometimes don’t “feel” like doing. Or if you host a fellowship, getting the home picked up and ready, preparing for a house full of people, putting songs or a teaching together, is not necessarily something that you may feel like doing. But when we live the exchanged life we are “willing” to do whatever it takes to love and serve His people. Every time we feel like doing the wrong thing, but choose to do the right thing, we grow spiritually.
God does not place emphasis on talents and gifts but on the willingness of the heart, a willingness to obey Him and do what He commands.
From what you have, take an offering for the LORD. Everyone who is willing is to bring to the LORD an offering of gold, silver and bronze;
My heart is with Israel’s princes, with the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the LORD!
In our modern times people think that they know something because they have highlighted the verse in their Bible or hung it as an inspirational print on the wall. In the Hebrew culture a person was considered only as knowing something when they actually did it. From God’s perspective, knowing and doing are inseparable, and having a willing heart always precedes our doing. If our hearts are right we want to do what He wants and not what we want. This is the kind of person God seeks all over the earth to find, and He rejoices when He finds this type of heart in a person.
2 Chronicles 16:9
For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
In our meetings we should learn to place the emphasis on “being willing, and doing”. We pray because God tells us to. We practice the manifestations of the holy spirit because God tells us to speak in tongues, to interpret, and to prophesy. We witness to others about Christ, give joyfully, and read God’s Word because He tells us to, even if we don’t “feel” like it. Don’t get upset with yourself if you don’t “feel” like doing something God asks you to do. Instead, whenever that happens just say, “God, I don’t feel like it…BUT, I will!”