Oswald Chambers once said, “Doing God’s will is never hard. The only thing that is hard is not doing His will.” I can almost hear some of you saying, “But that’s not right. It is hard to live a godly life. The struggle is real!” If you disagree with Chambers, read on. I hope you’ll see that the only way to get free from the struggle is to do things God’s way.
Let’s take a look at two men who engaged in a push-pull with God.
Cain did it his way
Genesis tells us that both Cain and Abel brought an offering to the Lord. Abel brought the firstborn from his flock and Cain brought the fruit of the ground. God respected Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s. We’re not told exactly why Cain’s offering was rejected, but the important part seems to be Cain’s reaction.
So Cain became extremely angry (indignant), and he looked annoyed and hostile. And the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it.”
The brothers were obviously told how to bring an offering, but Cain ignored God’s instructions and did things his way. When God questioned him, he didn’t respond with a spirit of humility or repentance; instead, he was angry and annoyed, and the result was a clear downward spiral into sin. Cain goes on to murder his brother and lives the rest of his life as an outcast.
Saul did it God’s way
Saul (Paul) was on his way to Damascus to persecute the early church when the Lord confronted Him, asking, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick [repeatedly] against the goads [offering pointless resistance]” (Acts 26:14*). An ox-goad was a seven to eight-foot weapon with a sharpened iron point used to prod the animal along. The Lord’s clear meaning is that like a rebellious ox, Paul could resist God’s will but he would only injure himself, like the stubborn ox whose flanks are bloodied by the goad.
The Lord questioned both Cain and Paul. As I’ve shared in previous posts, when God asks a question, it’s not because He doesn’t know the answer. He asks because He wants us to think, to consider, and if necessary, to repent. Unlike Cain, Saul got it right. He did repent. Doing what God asks is meant to be simple. The real struggle begins when we try to add to or subtract from God’s commandments, or when we try to make our lives easier by inserting subtle variations into His plan.
The happy river where struggles cease
It’s never easy to go against God’s will. Psalm 46:4 talks about a river whose streams bring joy to the city of God. Doing His will is like jumping into this refreshing flow. When we do what He wants, when He wants, and how He wants, we float on His current of joy with a sense of rightness and inner calm. When we stop fighting and let Him carry us, it’s effortless. There is no anger, aggravation, or angst.
As you contemplate the new year, and all the resolutions the world likes us to make, think instead about simply doing what God asks you to do. Get into His gentle refreshing flow and let Him carry you through 2022.
Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.
True peace consists in not separating ourselves from the will of God.Thomas Aquinas
*Amplified Bible Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved www.lockman.org
**Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.