I was talking with a friend several years ago and we began talking about people and how some are focused on Christ and are willing to do His will; while others are willful and want to do only what is best for them. The more we discussed the many examples of willfulness and willingness, we came to the conclusion that it is the choices we make each that define and illustrate our willingness or willfulness toward Christ and His message.
When you think about these two words—willing and willful—you will see how each word describes clearly Christian acts while the other one describe unchristian acts. As Christians, we’re all guilty from time to time doing things our way but it takes insight and a desire to change in order to get back on track with Christ. Think of times when you wanted to do something and then did it willingly and then recall when you did something in a willful way.
Now, think about when you didn’t want to do something but did it anyway and did it your way, and only when you wanted to do it. You were being willful, right? And, didn’t you most likely, cause problems wanting to do it your way? I know I can remember times when I was willful, like not wanting to help with chores at home and the problems and turmoil that came with it. Actually, when I was willful, it made the project or projects more difficult and time-consuming.
Then there are examples of pop stars, politicians and others who sometimes act willfully, even spitefully –just so they could have it their way! An example might be acting in a movie where they know the message is dark and offending to many but they do it anyway or being unkind or unruly to another actor or actress, when what they need to do is cooperate and help. Family members, myself included, have acted at times, willfully and have caused great frustration and anguish. There have been times when a family member has asked me to do something and willfully, I turned them down simply because I didn’t want to take time out of my life to do so.
When I think about how one acts when being willful I think of several adjectives/body languages that describe that emotion—selfish, self-centered, mean, negative, cruel come to mind--but mostly selfish. The body language would be folded hands in front of the chest, mean look, loud talking, and walking away from a conversation and others.
On the other hand, when one thinks of someone acting willingly to help out, to give to others, much different adjectives and behaviors come to mind—kind, helpful, happy, positive, giving and loving. The body language when someone is willing is a happy countenance, a smile on one’s face, opened arms, soft conversation and an agreeable and helpful attitude. What a difference in behavior, isn’t it?
The Bible presents many examples of “willingness” and “willfulness.” An example of willfulness from the Bible is when Moses was dealing with the Pharaoh, pleading to let the Israelites leave
The Pharaoh would not let the Israelites go, and so He and his country endured
the plagues which God allowed, hoping to soften his heart and let the people
go. .Eventually, he did –after his son died. The Pharaoh, because of his
stubbornness allowed himself and his people go through many
afflictions—covering of the land with frogs, dust becoming gnats and covering
the ground, swarms of flies, swarm of locusts covering the land, venomous
snakes and other afflictions. Egypt
In contrast examples of willingness show a different way of thinking and acting. Such an example can be found from Genesis 23:8 “He said to them, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf.”
And from Exodus 35:21: “and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments.”
And from Exodus 35:29 : “All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do.
Lastly, from Judges 5:2: “when the princes in
take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves—praise the Lord! Israel
What a difference there is in behavior when it comes to willing and willful. We see with the Pharaoh what happened as a result of his willfullness---death and destruction; while from the Israelites we see a desire and willingness to follow God and do what was right-- but only after they were willful for 40 years—wandering in the wilderness….Too bad it took so long! And in each case, look at the results and aftermath of willfulness….
Then I often think about how I could make my life better and how better to deal with people who are negative and willful. I made up a small list on how I could achieve this. This is what I came up with:
- When God wants me to do something, even though I don’t want to do it, I need to be open-minded and willing to do what He wants, for He cares about me and wants the best.
- Be aware of areas in my life where I’m willful—such as overeating, wanting to do thinks my own way, being selfish, not giving to others when they need it.
- Be more willing—not willful—to pray more, read the Bible more and be aware of areas where the “enemy” might attack—most likely in areas where I’ve had problems/fears before…
- Lastly, be willing and eager to love God more than anyone or any “thing” on earth. Keep Him #1 always. By doing that I will stay willing to follow God’s plan and this will keep me free and positive!
So, what can you and I glean from all of this? You might think that it’s “hip” to be willful or cruel; that your friends might find it “cool” to be willful.
But, you know what? Willfulness might be cool and work to your advantage for awhile but in the end, you’ll be all alone, unhappy and without anyone to share your life with. It is wise, I think, to be “willing” to be agreeable, “willing” to help, “willing” to make a difference; for all of this will lead to a better, longer and happier life. And, you will also find that by being willing to help and assist others at home or at work, you will find your life to be more fulfilling, interesting and a life that will consistently more productive, refreshing and Christ-like.
The choice is yours….Which will you choose?
Copyright Toni Star 2015