“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!” (Matthew 23:37)
Several years ago a friend of mine said, referring to her daughter, “You can’t want something more for someone than they want for themselves.” This thought has always stayed with me; however, I don’t seem to be able to find much comfort in the sentiment. I often find myself wanting someone to obey the Lord and become a child of God more than they want to themselves. I frequently find myself wanting an unfaithful brother or sister to grow to be the kind of Christian God would have them to be. I even find myself wishing that “brothers” and “sisters” would do a better job of getting along while here on this earth. Yet, in all of these situations, I have to remember that the person or persons first has to be willing.
The concept of willingness on the part of the Lord’s servants is chronicled in both the Old and New Testaments. As the Lord was instructing Moses, he was to only take the offerings from the Israelites who were freely willing to make the offering in connection with the construction of the sanctuary (Exodus 25:1-9; 35:20-29). The later reference in Exodus indicates just how willing these Israelites were to contribute. In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul wrote to these brethren, telling them how he had bragged about their willingness to come to the aide of the Jerusalem Christians in their deep time of need.
Throughout man’s history, God has desired only the service of those who are freely willing. Even though God does not want any to perish, some will because they will choose, of their own free will, not to repent and obey God. Would He wish it to be otherwise? Yes! (2 Peter 3:9) You could say, “He wants salvation more for them than they want it for themselves.”