Most people do things for three basic reasons. First, they do things because they want to. This strong desire moves them to action, usually with enthusiasm and wholehearted devotion. They are “not lagging in diligence” but are “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom 12:11). A good example of this attitude would be the prophet Isaiah. Upon hearing the voice of the Lord ask, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” He immediately (and probably enthusiastically) responded, “Here am I, send me! (Is 6:8).
Second, people do things because they see a need. This need stimulates a genuine desire to get involved, support someone, render assistance, ease a burden or help solve a problem. After learning that the survivors of the captivity remaining in Jerusalem were in great distress with the city walls broken down, Nehemiah was moved to action because of this need. Due to his efforts, the walls were rebuilt and the city was again safe and protected. And because of Nehemiah’s leadership, “The people had a mind to work!” (Ne 4:6).
Third, people do things because they are told or commanded to. When these commands are met with a submissive faith, willing obedience is the positive result. By faith, when Noah was commanded by God to build the ark, he built it. By faith, when Abraham was told to leave Haran and travel to a place not yet revealed by God, he went (Heb 11:7-9).
But there is a negative and unappealing side to this point as well. When told by God that he had been chosen to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage, Moses’ response was not favorable. Having received assurance from God through His words and miraculous signs, instead of saying, “Here am I, send me,” Moses responded, “Lord, please send someone else!” (Ex 3-4). King Saul, when commanded to attack the city of Amalek and “utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them,” spared King Agag and took the best of the spoil, contrary to God’s command (1 Sam 15:1-9). And Jonah, when commanded by God to “go to Ninevah…and cry out against it” because of their wickedness, the prophet ran in the opposite direction! (Jonah 1:1-3).
These negative instances reflect a conflict of wills. When our will opposes God’s will, and we choose to do our will rather than God’s, it is the result of pride. And pride leads to disobedience which, left unchecked, results in rebellion. On the other hand, a genuine humility negates pride and brings about willing obedience through a continuous submission to God’s will.
If we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mk 12:30), we will want to please Him and do His will. We will look for opportunities to serve and desire to meet the needs of the church and those yet unsaved (Gal 6:9-10; Eph 2:10). We will grow to realize that God’s commandments are not burdensome (1 Jn 5:2-3), but rather, it is an honor and privilege to serve the Living God in this life, that we may serve Him eternally in the next!