A friend of mine (who is also an author) talks about the difference between writing from inspiration, and writing through perspiration. It is one thing to capture ideas that are in our minds and are intriguing, but it is quite another challenge to do what we need to do out of duty or to meet a deadline. Personally, I find that these two methods work together: even if I have some good ideas, they aren’t useful in a half-finished article1. And, sometimes when I’m writing because I want to keep up with my schedule, I find insights and the motivation to write more.
In the same way, serving Jesus doesn’t require that we feel like it. It is an expectation of those who are in a healthy relationship with Him:
And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.
1 John 2:3-6 NLT
Regardless of how God may be portrayed in the world of opinion or fiction, the Bible reveals Him to be caring and loving for humankind. His creation was awesome, to be sure, but throughout history, He gives special attention to people (compared to other parts of the universe). Sometimes, His love requires some discipline, but even when we fell into sin (individually, and as a population on this earth), God’s overarching plan focused on a miraculous act of salvation for everyone who accepts it.
As a result, when we accept this gift – not just of salvation, but of reconciliation and adoption – the only logical response is gratitude. Even if living for God were toilsome and involved daily suffering, He would still be entitled to our worship and service. But, our loving God did not design the world that way: Instead, when we turn away from our selfish desires and harmful paths, and start to follow His leading, we find joy, peace, and often health as we live the way that He created us to live. That doesn’t mean we are always happy, wealthy, and pain-free, but we discover what life looks like when it is lived more like how God created it in the first place. We find our purpose in fulfilling our unique role, not just in the relatively small environment of people and things that we interact with, but in God’s great plan that spans the centuries.
More than just because of God’s sovereignty (His right to decide what should happen in the universe that He created), or even because of the benefits to us of living according to God’s plan, there is one more reason why living according to God’s instructions is the natural response of His followers:
Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
John 14:21 NLT
When we love God (because He loved us first – see 1 John 4:19), we want to listen to Him, serve Him, and obey Him. Whether we look at children who love their parents enough to obey them, or a married couple who love each other so much that they consistently serve each other, we can get a taste of what it means to obey and serve God when we love Him.
Don’t get me wrong, it is real work to live according to God’s direction, especially in a world that has been broken (because of sinful choices) for a long time. It’s not always about waiting for inspiration, though. Instead, it is often the perspiration that yields glory to God, who loves us, and whom we love.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
- And, this particular article sat in a half-finished state for a while, as have many other ideas whose inspiration was either from me (and not God) or maybe just weren’t meant for a particular time. ↩