When someone says to you, “I don’t have to and you can’t make me!” what they are really saying is that even if they submit to your desire, request or order, they have not given mental assent to the task. Their heart and mind is still against what they are being made to do. This is what I believe we see in the actions of Judah during the reign of Josiah. In 2 Chronicles 34:32-33 we read that King Josiah made all Judah and Israel renew their covenant with God and made them observe all that God had commanded.
Do you think that made a difference? We need only look to the remaining text of 2 Chronicles and see that the things that God had said would happen came to pass. Judah was carried off into captivity in Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar. Immediately after the death of Josiah the people who “had been made to follow God” turned back to the direction their hearts led them.
Friends, we need to realize that a change is needed in a person when they decide to follow God. That change must begin in the heart. Some seem to think this teaching has its basis in the New Testament, but the student of God’s word will find it has always been this way. In Jeremiah 29 we find that those seeking God will find Him only when they seek Him with all their hearts. King David counseled Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:9 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. (NASB)
A lesson we need to learn is that half-hearted Christianity isn’t Christianity at all. Anything that divides the attention of our hearts is another god or idol and God will not tolerate our allowing it to take His place. Is anyone “making you” serve God, including yourself? Is your heart totally committed to following Him? I hope so, because that is what God seeks in His followers.
Copyright © 2004, Nolan P. Rutter