“I WILL not do it!”
“I WILL do it anyway.”
“I WILL not forgive you!”
“I WILL be my own person.”
“I WILL make supper when I feel like it.”
“I WILL eat this piece of chocolate cake.”
Ever think about why our will is such a powerful force in our lives? My will has gotten me into trouble more times than I can begin to count. It’s gotten me into arguments. It’s caused me to fail. It’s caused me to lose. It’s created rifts in relationships. It’s caused relationships to end. It’s alienated others. It’s hurt me. It’s caused me to stick my foot in my mouth, actually both feet at times. Sometimes I think, “If only my will wasn’t so strong!” That statement is probably true to a point, however I don’t believe God wants us weak-willed either.
Our will is so powerfully strong because we were created in God’s image – God who’s own WILL is powerfully strong. So strong that He willed Himself to become human, willed Himself to carry out our punishment on the cross, willed Himself to buy us back even though we didn’t and don’t deserve it.
It was this same powerful will Jesus enacted as He served.
“Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in His ears. Then a leper appeared….” (Matthew 8:1, The Message)
After delivering His most powerful, well-known sermon to date, the crowds listening to Jesus went nuts! They’d never heard preaching like this! The cheers were enough to cause even the most humble to get distracted by the stardom. It would have been so easy for Jesus to get caught up in the “Wow, man! That was THE BEST MESSAGE I EVER HEARD! You’re powerful!” or the hands reaching out to touch Him, shake His hand, ask for His autograph. With a mob surrounding you, cheering you on, congratulating you, praising you, it would have been so easy to overlook the insignificant opportunity that planted itself in front of Him.
Matthew 8:2-3 – Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached Him and knelt before Him. “Lord,” the man said, “if You are willing, You can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” He said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.
Lepers. The untouchables. The ugliest of the ugly. The outcasts. The filthy. The ignored ones. The ones no one else wanted anything to do with.
“Lord,” the man said, “if You are WILLING, You can heal me and make me clean.”
The leper knew it wasn’t a matter of Jesus being ABLE to heal him. He’d probably been at the bottom of the hill, far away from anyone being able to catch a glimpse of him, trying to catch Jesus’ words as He taught….
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for Him…”
“God blesses those who mourn…”
“God blesses those who are humble…”
“God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice…”
“God blesses those who are merciful…”
“Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow….”
“Love your enemies…”
“…let your good deeds shine out for all to see…”
“…If God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you.”
“…how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.”
The leper was banking on Jesus’ WILLINGNESS. And that’s what he got.
“I am willing.” The powerful will of God Himself in action – serving in a situation no one else would have, literally, touched.
God’s powerful will is His GRACE. His grace in action not only to us, but through us. It is God’s grace, God’s willingness we lean into for the power to serve. Every part of our unredeemed will will seriously buck against serving. Our unredeemed will wants to indulge itself, pass judgment, do what it wants, bask in the limelight of fame and popularity or just sit back and be lazy. But salvation’s grace wasn’t just to save us; it was to enable us to serve.
Which will will you lean into today? The one that feeds your ego? Or the one that leads you to lepers?