What God Wants

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Matthew 6:10 “Thy will be done.”

“He has a mind of his own.” Maybe you have used those words to describe a strong-willed child who throws a tantrum if he doesn’t get his way. Maybe that is how you describe your crazy coworker who is always bucking the company way at work. He’s not like everybody else. He has a mind of his own.

It is a miracle of God that his original design not only made each of us a unique individual, but he even provided for each one to have his or her own will. That miracle lost its luster when we fell into sin and it took our wills captive. We became slaves (John 8:34). Our wills no longer worked in perfect freedom and harmony with our Maker. Now we live in a world with literally billions of competing wills. It is this sad truth which makes necessary the third petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done.”

God hasn’t left us to muddle through life in this world, confused about what his will might be. He has made it very clear in his word. Whether people agree with them or not, they are somewhat familiar with the ten commandments. Courts argue about whether or not they can be posted in courtrooms or public schools. A billionaire TV network owner once tried to rewrite them to better fit popular preference. Some churches have even questioned their application to modern life.

God gives them as a convenient summary of what it means to love. God’s commands are never arbitrary rules designed to keep us busy or ruin our fun. They reflect his concern for us. All of his commandments provide some human need, or they protect us from something that would hurt us. They show us what it means to love God. They teach us how to live with each other in a way that truly demonstrates respect and love for each other. As the psalmist once said, “…in keeping them is great reward.” It’s hard to argue with God’s will that we sincerely love him, and that we love the other people with whom we share this planet.

But is there something even closer to God’s heart than this? The Lord knows we have made a hopeless mess of his commands. In doing so we have brought judgment and death on ourselves. Now there is nothing he wants more than to have us for himself, and give us back our purity and our life. Remember Jesus’ words in John 6? “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Paul wrote that God our Savior wants all men to be saved, and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Peter promises us that God is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

How do we know this part of God’s will is so dear to his heart? When he gave his commandments of love, he gritted his teeth through thousands of years of human disobedience before he finally wrote them down for Moses at Mt. Sinai. But he directed the whole course of human history just to give us a Savior. God considered it better to suffer hell on a cross in payment for our sins than to live forever in heaven without us. He saw to it that the good news about Jesus was shared with you and me and billions of other Christians, each one individually, so that he might woo and win us to faith. There is no other project on earth into which God has ever poured so much of his time and effort and love.

So our prayer “thy will be done” is more than a prayer for good behavior or circumstances that serve God’s people. It is a prayer that his grace and love have their way with self-willed human hearts. It’s a prayer that resistance turns to faith. Then his will and ours will be aligned again.

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