Do I Have To?

“Have-to’s” are a part of every day. You know what I’m talking about – those things you don’t necessarily enjoy doing but must do. And whether you like it or not you have to find the time and energy to get them done. Like doing the laundry. No one (okay maybe a few peculiar people) enjoys doing laundry but it’s either that or wear dirty, smelly clothes or even worse, going naked. Paying the bills is a “have-to”. Filling the car up with gas is a “have-to”. Homework is most certainly a “have-to.” I’m sure you have other “have-to’s” every day?

“Want-to’s” can also be a part of every day. Those things that we look forward to doing not because we must do them but because we can’t wait to do them. For me, getting to play golf is a “want-to”. I don’t ever feel like I “have-to” go lose expensive golf balls and flirt with anger on all eighteen holes. I want to! You know what they say? A bad day on the golf course is always better than a good day in the office.

The Christian life is full of “have-to’s” and “want-to’s”. In 1st John 2 we are told that If we love God we will follow His commands. But let’s be honest – those often feel like a list of “have-to’s.” I have to go to church. I have to be nice to people. I have to give to the poor. I have to love my enemies. I have to forgive that scumbag. And the lists goes on and on.

But God never intended for His commands to be an encumbering list of rules we have to do. God’s desire is for us to want to follow His commands. How do we get from the “have-to” to the “want-to”? Let me offer two suggestions:

Pray for the “want-to.” Appeal to God for a change of heart. Request that a superficial sense of “have-to” would be transformed into a supernatural compulsion of “want-to”.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove
the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit
within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Ezekiel 36:26-27

Just Do it
Reaching the point where we “want-to” obey the commands of Christ doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. Growth in the Christian life often begins with obedience even when the desire is not present. That was true for me when I first started tithing. The first time I wrote that check, I did so reluctantly. I knew I needed to, but I didn’t really desire to. In fact, I was quite disturbed about it. But each time I wrote the check, God would do something. He would give me a glimpse of the outcome of my giving. He would show me His promise of giving. And over time I began to write that check each time with joy. It was a process that began with just going through the motions.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

What do you have to do today? What do you want to do today?



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