Do you have a willing mind?

Dear BPCWA worshipper, I am sure it is the common experience of parents asking their children to obey them in something that is good for the child and is also the child’s duty and obligation to do so. Although it is something that the child doesn’t want to do, but because the child knows that it is something that must be done because it is commanded by the parent, the child may do it after several reminders. At times, as an expression of their unhappiness at having been made to do it, the obedient action is done with a reluctant or defiant spirit that may not be immediately obvious to those around them. Does the parent know? I would say that it is not lost on the parent. It is a sad fact that we live in a world where many parents have lost their God-given authority over their children and children have lost the respect and honour due to parents. Today, parents are meekly relieved as long as their child still does what they are instructed to do, albeit with bad attitudes. Parents know that the outward actions done with such a negative attitude in the child bring little (if any) joy to the parent’s heart. With this as a parallel, I want to consider the attitude in our minds when it comes to obeying God.

Covenantal obedience. Our God engages His people through covenants. Before the children of Israel reached the Promised Land, God instructed them through Moses to solemnly renew their covenant before Him on Mount Gerizim. This was recorded for us in Deuteronomy 28 and 29. As is familiar to many, there are blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience in the covenant. We must realise that while God expects the external actions He commands, He does not just expect outward conformity. This is seen when He attaches His blessings to their obedience by saying “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth” (De 28:1). Here, God says emphatically “hearken diligently”. It would mean that it’s more than merely the external sound waves entering our ears. God is instructing them to hear with attention or interest, to give heed, consent, agree to, and listen to yield to. Ultimately, it would be to have the same mind with God and yield willingly to Him on the matter. 

The beginning of a willing mind. God’s covenant is a loving one and is for our good. He promises far more blessings than curses. Obeying God’s covenantal commandments is not only our duty but for our spiritual good.  If we view God’s covenant with us lovingly and see Him as One to be honoured highly in our minds, we will listen and obey with a natural willingness. If we do not, we must correct the way we think about God in the first place. Has God become so familiar to us that we begin to treat Him with the same irreverence we may have gotten used to treating our parents with? Has familiarity bred contempt in your heart towards God?

Attitude of the mind. Here is an area where even Christians miss when it comes to the law. The laws of God are no delight to us because of what our minds think about God.  But even with regenerated minds, Christians can still look upon the law as a dreaded duty to be fulfilled. However, the blessed man is one whose “delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (Ps 1:2). Note that it is not God’s law but the LORD’s (His covenantal name is used here) law. If the LORD is our delight, then it goes to say that the duty of fulfilling that law is also a delight. Conversely, if our minds have a low view of God, then fulfilling His law is not a delight but a dread.  And unless we are honest enough to admit to ourselves the insolent attitude of our minds toward God, then our service to God is not pleasing Him as it ought to.

A willing giver. We are told of how the Macedonian Christians, who, though being “in a great trial of affliction”, were “willing of themselves” to take upon “the fellowship of the ministering to the saints” (2Co 8:2-4). In our BBK lessons, we cover stewardship and the support of the Lord’s work with our tithes and offerings. We are probably familiar with the “technicality” of the doctrines – why we must return to the Lord. These are all part of what we ought to do.  But even in what is our duty, God reminds us “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2Co 9:7). If the giving of mammon is difficult to any, it speaks volumes of how far our minds and hearts are from an agreement with God! Let us, as we put our hands in our pockets every week when it comes to the return of our tithes and offerings to God, check the spirit of our minds and do so with cheerful and willing minds.

A willing servant. David was a man who understood and treasured the covenant with God greatly. There is much to learn from David, a man after God’s own heart. He knew what God desired, and so his instruction to Solomon was not merely to rule well and build the temple of God. He instructed “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind” (1Ch 28:9). A willing mind preceded “build an house for the sanctuary” (1Ch 28:10). Our heart and mind in service are of primary importance, because “the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts” (1Ch 28:9). Solomon can fulfill all the externalities and man may not know the difference. But God knows, and that must be our primary concern. So, we must be careful about our thoughts as we do anything for God. A willing mind is that which approaches the obedient action with a desire to please God. This is what God looks for in our obedience. We may be doing many things that are good externally, but it can be with a grudging, unhappy attitude as opposed to a mind that delights in the commandments.

A loving mind. What then should we say to ourselves if from this we see the lack of delight we have in God’s service? We must realise and admit that the fault lies in our cold minds toward Christ, to begin with. We may try to push the blame away from ourselves onto others, our circumstances, or anything we can conveniently grasp at. Often, we don’t do something just simply because we don’t want to do it, not because we really cannot do it. If our minds are unwilling, we may still perform a task. But we can act in such a way as to show our protest that it was a forced obligation. So, the world goes by the motto of follow your heart – if you don’t feel like it, just don’t do it. Instead of that, the Christian must always adopt the principle of a loving mind when it comes to obedience and service. Duty to God is a given. Doing right is a given and unnegotiable fact. Righteousness is an expectation for the believer. But none of these will be a chore if our minds have the highest regard and love for the One who calls for them.

Beware of the unprofitable mindset. One whose thought of God and expected duty to Him is “that thou art an hard man” (Mt 25:24) is in effect an “unprofitable servant” (Mt 25:30) who is not even saved. But the child of God is a regenerated new creature with a new mind. The Christian may have moments of fleshly weaknesses and unwillingness. The difference between this and the unprofitable servant is that the true child of God will recognize that a willing mind is the only right mind to have toward God. And he will seek to repent and return in love. After all, that is what repentance is – a change of heart and mind in agreement with what God says. As Christians, let us set our minds to be in full and loving agreement with God and His Word, including what it says about the attitude of our minds!

Yours in our Lord’s service,