Is Your Will a Liability to You?

“My mind is made up!” An often heard declaration, these words can be the source of joy or grief depending on whose they are. From the one who struggles to make and hold on to decisions, they bring relief to the hearers. But from one who takes pride in his or her iron will, they elicit sighs and exasperation. I know a thing or two about the latter because during my childhood and teen years, I developed a strong will as a defense against manipulation. Once my mind was made up on certain issues, that was it!

Having a strong will is in itself not bad. In fact, some of the people whom God has used to drive significant changes in His kingdom and in the world have been people of rock-solid wills; for example, Paul the apostle. Firmness of will is also a necessary virtue for Christians, if we must walk the narrow path to which we are called in a world where most choose the broad and easy way[1].

But — and this is an important one — a strong will must be enlightened by God if it is to be of use to Him and to His kingdom.

An enlightened will

I describe an enlightened will as one that is bathed in God’s light and whose raison d’être (reason for being) is to please Him. An enlightened will submits fully to the Lord and, by extension, adapts to others, within the confines of His will.

A will that is too strong to yield to God or to others at His command is a liability. And when one with such a will enters into relationship with the Lord and expresses a desire to love and serve Him, He — in His love and wisdom — breaks the unruliness of that will. His dealings in this regard are necessary, for He says in His Word that He will only look to and have regard for the one who is of a humble and broken spirit, and who trembles at His word.[2]

A person who takes pride in her ability to make up her mind and not change it no matter what will not tremble at God’s word because her untamed will will override God’s will and the gentle promptings of His Spirit in her heart. She is accustomed to being her own boss and will bow to no other once the boss (herself) has made a decision. A person with this heart disposition cannot serve God effectively.

Sometimes, unknown to us, our wills may be broken in some areas of life but not in others. There may still be pockets of our lives where we rule and have the final say. When this is the case, the Lord passes us through dealings that dethrone self and bring our wills into full yieldedness to Him.

A yielded will in a wicked world

The risk of manipulation still exists in our world today and, I dare say, is more prevalent than when I was a child. I still dislike being manipulated. But I have learned to pass the responsibility for my protection to the Holy Spirit, who dwells in me. This has allowed me to relate more freely with others.

As we exchange our iron wills (or weak wills) for wills that are fully submitted to God, we find that His Spirit shields us from potential manipulators. He does this  by granting us discernment, revelation, and wisdom, just as He did for our Lord Jesus Christ:

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. (John 6:63–64; italics mine)

The Holy Spirit also teaches us how to navigate our interactions with such persons:

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).

His ministry, when fully received, releases us to be like our heavenly Father, firm and determined yet entreatable and considerate.

A yielded will in relation to God and an adaptable will in relation to others are essentials for living a life that pleases the Father and can be used effectively by Him. May the Lord bathe our wills in His light and work in us humility, brokenness of spirit and unconditional reverence for His word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

[1] Matthew 7:13–14

[2] Isaiah 66:1–2

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Let Down the Nets

fishing boat

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break (Luke 5:4-6).

When we go deeper in Christ, we “catch” a lot more from Him. When we deepen our one-on-one intimacy with Him, we become better equipped to find the purposes and provisions that He has prepared for us.

So, what hinders us from going deeper? A key culprit is our susceptibility to having our hearts overcharged with the cares of this life. In His day, the Lord Jesus warned His disciples to pay attention and be on guard, lest their hearts became weighed down by self-indulgence and worldly pleasures (on one hand) and the anxieties of life (on the other)[1][1].

If self-indulgence, worldly pleasures, and anxieties were snares at that time, they are even more so these days, when the pace of life is faster, the number of activities the average individual is involved in is greater, and self-focus is the norm. To some degree, overcoming the tendency to be overly immersed in the cares and pleasures of this life is the challenge of our age.

There is much more for us to attain in Christ, hence, the Lord, by His Spirit, beckons us to come up higher. In His presence, we will experience calm—like fishes in the deep blue sea—and behold divine treasures. There, we will be changed into His image from glory to glory.

But how do we experience His presence amidst the topsy turviness of daily living? A good place to start is to intensify our efforts to spend quality time with Him each day. A second step is to trim our involvement in things that add no real value to our lives, as these only increase the noise in our souls. We need not live like recluses, but getting rid of excesses that dull our spiritual senses—the kind of activities that are “lawful but not expedient”—will help to maintain inner serenity and facilitate our spiritual journey.

Thirdly, and most importantly, we must ask the Lord for an abundance of grace—grace to stay above the drowning floods of this present age, grace to grow and become the mature body of Christ.[2]

As we take these steps, we will find ourselves soaring above the noise and distractions of our time. We will live this life but not be drowned by it. We will maintain a posture of worship to our God day in, day out.

I’m often intrigued by the fact that a saint like Daniel who was a leader in Babylon had significant responsibilities within his secular job but maintained a heart of deep communion with God.[3] How did he achieve this? Certainly not by a lukewarm, compromising lifestyle. The Bible tells us that Daniel fervently sought the Lord and lived openly for Him. In return, the Lord rewarded him not only with signs and wonders but also with depth in his spiritual life.

May God help us to rise above the drowning tide of our age and go deeper in Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

[1] Luke 21:34

[2] Ephesians 4:15

[3] Daniel 2:48–49; 6:1–4