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Willingness - Our Choice


Philippians 2:13

…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

I have been pursuing the significance of various virtues and how they can impact our lives. Virtues often appear in combinations, not just one solitary quality. For instance, when we think of veterans, what virtues do they display? Courage comes to mind – showing boldness and confidence. Also, humility – which is the quality of stepping out of the self and putting others and their agendas before our own.

Other virtues could be offered, but the one I want to speak about this week is willingness. For me, above all others, veterans display willingness. Every virtue has value, and we are told to think on the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, commendable, anything containing virtue, and worthy of praise. The nature of willingness fits squarely among these things to ponder.

Willingness is the state of being ready to do something that is needed, an attitude and spirit of cooperation and communion; we are prepared to do something without reluctance or regard for results. We may not always be happy to do something, but we are willing to do it without complaint because the effort has value.

In the Bible the idea of willingness often accompanies a request for some other action. In Isaiah 1:19, we read - If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land.” If we are ready and prepared to obey God, we will have good things.

God has good plans for us, good intentions. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Those are God’s intentions for us, His plans. But we must be willing to accept them for them to come into being.

Last week I said that I did not really know the most valuable virtue beyond receiving, accepting, sharing, and embracing God’s holy love. But I have come to think that God’s gift of willingness is the champion of all other virtues. Without willingness we cannot experience a virtue beyond the simple knowledge of it.

We are told by Christ to love each other. The most important commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and each other as ourselves. Fine. We know that; we understand that; we acknowledge that. But if we are unwilling to do that, end of story; nothing good comes of it.

God tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” To know God is to know love, peace, joy, and all other good things. Great. We know that; we accept that; we tell others about that, and then we don’t do it. We are unwilling to let go of the world and be still. End of story.

We can talk about Christ and love and God and Spirit, but if we are unwilling to do the things that bring us close to God, unwilling to think on the things that open our hearts and minds to Spirit, unwilling to accept Christ’s message of love – that’s it. We are off track and unable to experience all the good that God has in store for us. God’s intentions are of no value if we are not willing to do what is expected of us.

We can have all the courage in the world, but if are unwilling to use it when called, then we are of no value. The same is true of every virtue. We can be humble, but if unwilling to live through that humility, then it is as if it doesn’t exist. We are told in James 4:17, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” If we know what we should say, should do, or should think and are unwilling to do it – we are off track, not following Christ, not aligned with Spirit, and not attuned to God.

Wayne Dyer wrote, “Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you.” If we know that we should love each other despite our cultures, beliefs, race, religion, gender identification, or sexual orientation, and yet are unwilling to do it, then to speak of the love of Christ is hypocritical.

Now this doesn’t mean that we are bad people or that God doesn’t love us. It means that we are human beings identifying with the world rather than Spirit and are off God’s intended path for us.

It is as if we are turning willingness inside out. We are willing to do many things that are not God’s will for us; not part of God’s intention or plan. We are willing to listen to others, the loudest voice in the room, without considering the truth of their words or the consequences of their actions because those sentiments reinforce our current beliefs. We are willing to accept situations and occurrences in the world as normal when everything points to them being crazy and chaotic according to God’s vision. We are willing to accept another person’s assessment of the value of someone based upon their differences or similarities. We are willing to hold tightly to beliefs, attitudes, and philosophies that are not necessarily accurate, true, or of God. At times in our lives, we are too willing toward the world’s suggestions while being willful, or stubborn and self-willed, toward God.

Our willingness to obey God, walk the path of Christ, and live through the guidance of Spirit brings rich blessings to our lives. It brings the fulfillment of God’s plans and intentions. Through willingness we reap the promises from God to prosper us, protect us, give us hope, give us peace, strength, and guidance. Through willingness we enjoy the promises of Christ for salvation, eternal life, comfort, and rest. Through willingness we enjoy the power and fruits of Spirit. Without willingness, none of that is available.

It is evident that through the misuse of our self-will we attract darkness and chaos into our lives. Fears can arise from our willingness to hold on to false claims and beliefs. We are willing to remain ignorant because we appreciate the sense of camaraderie from the people we hang out with. Are we willing to believe that we can judge someone else’s sins to be greater than ours, so we must therefore be more righteous in the eyes of God?

Simply by thinking that we are sinning. We are willing to engage in silent sins, thoughts and behaviors that do not hurt anyone other than ourselves. But they are still sins. To think a lustful thought or scenario is a sin. To procrastinate is sin. Being complacent, not doing something that needs to be done, is a sin. Being lazy… a sin. Being a glutton, overdoing anything whether it is food, drink, shopping, watching television, texting, sitting at the computer for hours on end, excessive sex or video games … yes, it is sin. Hypocrisy, gossip, jealousy, fear, worry, self-righteousness, pride, all of these are sins – either things that God does not want us to do or things God wants us to do that we do not do. Either direction, it is a sin.

When we judge others, condemning them for their behaviors and choices … how many sins are we committing? How can we dare to condemn others when we ourselves are swallowed up in sin?

Romans 3:10-12 slaps us with these words: There's nobody living right, not even one, nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God. They've all taken the wrong turn; they've all wandered down blind alleys. No one's living right; I can't find a single one.

Are we willing to stand before God and admit that we are a sinner, and then be willing to repent, change the way we think and behave and treat others? What are we prepared and ready to do, think, believe, and say? Are we willing to be still and know God? Are we willing to “trust in the Lord and lean not on our own under-standing,” as Proverbs 3:5 says? Sometimes all God asks of us is to be willing; He’ll do the rest.

It takes practice and awareness to grow in willingness. Being willing begins with an open mind, being receptive to new ideas, experiences, and procedures. If we feel reluctant, can we examine it objectively? Why am I feeling this way? What am I encountering that is contrary to what I expect or believe? Does it conflict with an entrenched habit? Is it true? Do I even know whether it is true or false? Is it something that requires more information? Being open minded is a doorway to willingness.

We can practice being empathetic with others. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Practicing this understanding can help us be more willing to help others, see things from their perspective, and obey the command of Christ to love each other. Being open to new information and experiences, to keep learning, being curious, asking questions, and admitting when we don’t know something opens the way to willingness.

Taking small steps, breaking down a larger goal into more manageable objectives can feel less daunting, more achievable, and allow us to be more positive. A positive attitude can aid us in becoming willing to face new experiences. Focusing on the value and benefits of a situation rather than the potential downside can help us be more willing.

In fact, focusing on the good things currently in our lives and being thankful for them can help us become more willing to help others and see the positive aspects of a situation. Surrounding ourselves with positive influences – people and ideas – can help us become more willing to take on new challenges and expand our awareness of God’s love and its power in our lives.

Is it any wonder then, that Philippians 4:8 admonishes us to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, or lovely? We are told to think about these things. Perhaps it is unrealistic to think about these concepts every moment of the day. But are we willing to allow our mind to move to true and noble thoughts in our down time? Holding these types of thoughts in mind, repeating positive affirmations, and seeking out people who inspire us and have a positive outlook on life guide us toward being more willing. Surrounding ourselves with God’s light leads us toward being willing to follow God. Darkness lures us toward a willingness to follow the ego and the world’s cunning whispers.

It is my prayer that we choose to be willing to God’s intentions. As our opening Bible verse says, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” It is God working in us, preparing us, readying us to do what needs to be done to fulfill His divine purpose. I pray we release the cackle of the world and cling to the touch of Spirit. I pray our willingness be directed toward the good of God, not the meanness of the world.

I pray that we are open to Christ as he whispers to our heart this guidance for a fulfilled and blessed life: “Be willing to choose love. Be willing to accept and share my love.” God’s intention for us is to walk the path of love. To summarize my talk is simple: We will, or we will not. It is our choice.


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