10 And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; 11 but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. 12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. (2 Corinthians 8:10–12, NKJV)
Christians in Jerusalem were in desperate need of relief, and the Corinthian church desired to serve them. Their desire to help had prompted them to begin to help a year earlier (v. 10). Apparently, they had not yet completed this work. (Paul had previously instructed them on this matter, 1 Corinthians 16:1-3.) Now, Paul counsels them to bring their actual giving into harmony with their desire to help (2 Corinthians 8:16-9:15). Paul explained God did not expect from them what they were unable to give (v. 12). God would accept their giving based on their willingness and their ability to do so. We thus conclude that a willing heart plus one’s ability produces giving that Gods accepts. The Macedonian churches had set an example of willing hearts plus generous giving (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). Giving without a willing heart becomes coercion. Readiness to give without following through becomes empty rhetoric. With willing hearts, may we fully give according to our ability, we may be confident of the Lord’s acceptance.
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” (Matthew 23:37–39, NKJV)
The Messiah expressed His ardent desire to draw Jerusalem close to Himself, comfort her and protect her. Yet, Jerusalem was not willing to receive His love. She killed God’s prophets; their message was disdainful to her. She stoned God’s servants, and would soon kill God’s Son. Now, the desolation of divine judgment was in her future. Only by understanding the Messiah’s gospel would any of her inhabitants find a blessing (read Acts 3:24-26). Note here the longing of God and the freewill of man. God desires the salvation of all (1 Tim. 2:3-4). Yet, without a willing heart to receive God’s word and follow His will, the lost person will not be saved. Responsibility for the desolation of Jerusalem, applied by the Roman army in A.D. 70, fell squarely on the shoulders of its rebellious citizens. If we refuse God and the salvation He offers us, we are responsible for our own demise. Why not rather turn to Christ, receive His word, obey His will and be saved?
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8, NKJV)
Too often we have an attitude that says, “Here am I…send someone else!” Isaiah’s ready faith to volunteer to speak for God to His wayward people arouses our zeal to do the same. We must be ready and willing to accomplish God’s purposes. You can have this attitude in your marriage, devoting yourself to be a loving husband or a respectful wife. Like Isaiah, if you are sent to preach the word of God, do so with diligent, enduring faith. If you lead God’s people as an elder, faithfully attend to your stewardship to the glory of God. God wants willing servants. Devote yourself to greater zeal in the Lord’s service. Isaiah is a great example to follow.
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 1:18–20, NKJV)
God “desires all men to be saved”, but He will not force His salvation on anyone. The freewill He gave us from creation must be exercised to come to Him with one’s whole heart. God would bless Judah and Jerusalem’s willing obedience with cleansing from their sins and the good abundance of their land. But, rebellious refusal to faithfully follow the Lord would bring their destruction. Jerusalem was eventually devoured by their enemies’ sword, a just punishment for her sins. The gospel of Christ calls every sinner to come to the Lord, to hear His words of mercy and call to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:36-41). Receive God’s word with a willing heart and obedient life. He will cleanse you of your sins and give you abundant, eternal life. If not, remember that judgment is certain against all who rebel against the Lord (Rom. 2:6-11).
16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, 17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. 18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; 20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 1:16-20)
Israel was in rebellion against God due to her own choices of sin. Yet, the Lord desires her purity and assures her that every evil stain could be cleansed. But, Israel would have to make different choices. Choices of faith and repentance. Only then would cleansing come from the Lord. God set before Israel the choices of willing obedience resulting in blessedness, or rebellious refusal and with it, punishment by the sword. Even so today, God is ready to forgive your sins and cleanse you of every stain. But like Israel, you must make a choice of faith to “put away the evils of your doings from before” the eyes of God. Trust and obey; and God will forgive. Rebel, and His just punishment is certain. What will you choose today?