Oswald Chambers is one of those communicators that tells it like it is. No sugar-coating, no dancing around political correctness (of course there was no need for political correctness in his time). He just talks about the Word of God and exposes His truths in simple, matter-of-fact terms. Just as God’s Word is black-and-white, Oswald exposes it to us in black and white. Mostly what we have from Oswald is lectures that he gave as a professor at several Bible colleges in England and the US. He has been teaching me since my brother’s wedding when as the best-man in the groom’s party I received a copy of “My Utmost for His Highest.”
In preparation for a couple of my sermons in the coming months, I ran across another book of Oswald Chambers entitled “The Moral Foundations of Life: A Series of Talks on the Ethical Principles of the Christian Life.” You have to love titles from the early 1900’s, so formal and detailed. The titles of Oswald Chambers’ books were created by family members or colleagues because all of his published works were printed after his untimely death from complications of an appendectomy. (Why am I providing all these atypical details? Because I want to encourage whoever is reading this blog to do a bit of your own research of Oswald Chambers’ life. He truly is worth looking into.
So, the whole reason I was inspired to write this post after a long weekend that didn’t feel like a weekend, is this; I went back and re-read the very opening of the Moral Foundations of Life book and was astonished at the value and truth that is in every single word of his first paragraph. Here it is in its entirety:
Beware of thinking of will as a faculty. Will simply means the whole nature active. We talk about people having a weak will or a strong will, it is a misleading idea. When we speak of a man having a weak will, we mean he is without any impelling passion, he is the creature of every dominating influence; with good people he is good, with bad people he is bad, not because he is a hypocrite, but because he has no ruling passion, and any strong personality knits him into shape. Will is the essential element in God’s creation of a man. I cannot give up my will: I must exercise it.
I would like to be able to say that I have always stood on my own will (wouldn’t we all), but that would be lie. I have stood on both sides of this paragraph. I have been so impressed by someone or something that I allow my will to be shaped by that influence, good-for-good, and yes, bad-for-bad! And in these cases, as Oswald so simply states when I do this it is because I am not passionate enough about my beliefs and faith and give up my free will. I allow myself to be influenced by someone or something else and at that point, give up the very gift of God that is key to our humanity.
One may argue that if we allow ourselves to be influenced by good and allow our wills to be submitted to those things, that is not so bad. In my wife’s equine terms, “WHOA!!!” God’s point behind free will is choice. If we find ourselves “going with the flow” because the river we are floating in is Christian, we are still giving up our free will. We are allowing other’s to determine our direction. Or, as Oswald states, we are allowing our position to be determined by others, not because we are hypocrites, but because we have “no ruling passion, and any strong personality [that] knits [Us] into shape.”
God gave us the ability to choose in ALL things. We must determine to choose free will and not willingly give up the things we know are true and righteous because we are impressed by someone’s or something’s charm. We have all been there, good or bad, impressed by someone or something and find ourselves blindly nodding our heads in agreement to the very thing we would, if we stepped back and stood and tested His will for our life, and said, “No, that is not true in my life.” Instead, we find ourselves saying, “Yep, that could work for me.”
I want to encourage you to use your God-given gift of free will. It is a gift, and like any gift is meant to be used, or as Oswald Chambers state “practiced.” I love that verb (practice) because it means you get to do it over-and-over until you get it right. There is no implied limit. Just keep practicing! When you find yourself blindly nodding your head in agreement to someone or something, do a check, “Do I WILLINGLY agree with this, or am I just nodding because it seems like the right thing to do at this moment.” Then, behave accordingly!
To encourage others, share where you have stood on your free will and have been blessed, or blessed others by practicing your God-given gift!