I Don’t Want To . . .
The one word you never have to teach a toddler is “no.” And the one phrase you don’t have to teach them is “I don’t want to.”
Problem is, once these words leave our lips the first time, they continue to flow naturally for the rest of our lives.
I don’t want to!
It starts early. I don’t want to share my toys. Or go to school. Or do my homework.
And the progression continues. I don’t want to work. Or live within a budget. Or obey the speed limit. I don’t want to eat healthy foods or exercise.
Left to ourselves, our focus becomes what we want. Our comfort and convenience. Our preferences and agendas. And our rights. It’s almost impossible to get through a day without at least thinking “I don’t want to” even if we don’t say the words aloud.
The final stage in this progression? Our refusal to submit to the Sovereign King of the universe. I don’t want to be accountable to God. I don’t want to surrender to His leading. Or forgive the person who betrayed me. Or love my enemies.
And yet . . . where did we ever get the idea that we are in charge? Certainly not from the Bible. But even if the Bible had nothing to say on the subject, all we need to do is carry out the thought to its logical conclusion to see the impossibility of always getting our own way. Imagine the results if everyone did that. Chaos and confusion. Broken relationships. Loss of lives and loss of property.
Sadly, we don’t have to imagine these things. All we have to do is turn on the evening news.
Could it be that God knew best all along? Could it be that, as Pogo warned in the 1971 comic strip, “We have met the enemy and he is us”?
This leads to yet another problem. The “enemy” is indeed inside each one of us—the Bible calls this our sin nature—and we are helpless to conquer it. We can try harder, work smarter, and make countless New Year’s resolutions, only to fail sooner or later.
But God already knew that. And before time began, He planned an elaborate solution to our problem. He sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sin and He gave us His Spirit to provide the power to live differently. We no longer need to be slaves to our own bent to rebellion. Faith in Jesus Christ frees us to choose a different way: His way.
Our pursuit of freedom led to slavery.
Our submission to God leads to freedom.
Which do you want?