Walking with God changes us on increasingly deeper levels. As a result, it inevitably leads to a positive change in our motives.
To the elders, Peter writes,
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be (1 Pet. 5:2).
He continues by saying that they should be “eager to serve.”
God doesn’t want people who serve because they are required to. You know, the type of people who are focused on fulfilling their obligations, but their hearts are not really into what they are doing, like students submitting half-hearted assignments.
Peter’s words serve as a challenge to that mindset—”not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be.” God wants us to be willing.
Let that sink in.
God wants you to serve willingly.
He cares about your motives.
He doesn’t want people who just go through the motions. He wants us to put our hearts into it.
This reminds me of 2 Corinthians 8–9. In those chapters Paul expresses his desire for the Corinthian believers to give to poor believers. But he is very careful not to pressure them with his authority so he writes, “I am not commanding you” (8:8).
Instead he encourages the Corinthians by using two examples: the Macedonian churches’ willingness to give and Titus’s desire to visit them. Regarding the Macedonian churches he says that they gave “entirely on their own” (8:3). And he mentions that Titus will be coming to them “with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative” (8:17). The Macedonian churches didn’t give out of an obligation mindset and Titus was not going to visit them because he was required to. Both sincerely wanted to give and serve.
And then Paul gets to his point in chapter nine:
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (v. 7).
How much should they give? Whatever amount they decided in their heart to give.
God doesn’t want us to give reluctantly or half-heartedly. He also doesn’t want us to give because we feel forced to. The act itself is not good enough. The heart behind the act matters.
God’s goal is to get us to that place where we give and serve willingly and cheerfully. Why? Because “God loves a cheerful giver.”