Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the LORD’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the LORD. Exodus 35:20-22
It wasn’t Israel’s brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets and gold objects that pleased the Lord – trust me, God doesn’t need our brooches – it was the willing hearts and spirits of his people. Do you want to please the Lord and bring him joy? Serve him with gladness.
When our heart isn’t in it, we can go on a mission trip or give all we have to the poor and it stinks in God’s nostrils.
Jesus criticized the Pharisees saying ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.’ Outwardly they did what God required. They kept the rules. They did the religion thing. They lit the candles. They painstakingly tithed. Yet inwardly their hearts weren’t in it. Serving God was tedious. Joyless. If our attitude is I’ll do it but I won’t like it, we won’t please the Lord even if we conform to his commands externally.
Here’s where it gets tough. God calls us to serve him in lots of ways we don’t naturally want to.
Caring for that perpetually needy and demanding sister. Helping that brother who quite frankly doesn’t smell good. Going to care group when you’re flat out beat and would just rather spend the evening in a catatonic state of TV watching. Caring for an elderly parent. Humbling yourself to ask forgiveness.
At times I feel about as much like serving Jesus as jumping into a freezing river on New Year’s day. Yet God calls me to serve him with wholehearted gladness.
How do we do this? Cry out to God – Jesus, help! I don’t feel like doing this. Change my heart! Help me desire to serve my brother. Give me grace to change these diapers cheerfully. Help me be a cheerful giver. Help me do this from the heart!
Bottom line – we need God’s grace to be cheerful, willing servants. God’s joy, God’s gladness, God’s strength.
Christ’s people are willing; all that they do, they do willingly, for they are constrained by no compulsion, but by grace alone. I am sure we all can do a thing far better when we are willing than when we are forced. God loves his people’s services, because they do them voluntarily. Voluntarism is the essence of the gospel. Willing people are those whom God delights to have as his servants.-Spurgeon
How has God helped you to serve him cheerfully?