Honestly, you would have misread the title of this blog if I hadn’t set aside the key word, FOR. You are more accustomed to asking the question, “What does God want FROM me?” It is natural to ask the “from” question. It is the question we ask of each other. It is the question that reveals the pattern of most relationships in our lives. Just about everybody you deal with wants something from you. They want money, time, and production. They want attention, responsiveness, and agreement. They want something from you.
Because this is the pattern of most relationships in our life – FROM your relationships – you learn to respond in two ways:
- You respond by meeting expectations – trying to provide what people want from you.
- You respond by making expectations – telling people what you want from them.
You may be a little better at the first or the second response. Eventually the two patterns are so co-dependent that they drown one another.
Now shift one word: turn FROM into FOR. “What do others want FOR you?” I want to point out to you that by shifting one word in the question, you potentially change the relationship. What if … and it is a big IF of faith … what if your relationship with God in Christ was based on what God wants FOR you?
- Take the Ten Commandments. If the commandments comprise what God expects from you as an end in itself, you must obey the commandments perfectly in order to be released from Egypt. However, if what God wants FOR you is your partnership with him in advancing his Kingdom on earth, then the Ten Commandments are a means to the greater end, the Kingdom of God’s love among us. Didn’t Jesus say this, “…Love the Lord your God…and your neighbor as yourself…there is no greater commandment than these two” (Mark 12:30-31).
- Take the fruit of the Spirit. It is tempting to think of the fruit scattered all about, somewhere just beyond our grasp. We think that what God wants from us is for us to somehow create these qualities in our lives. It is as if we were on a shopping safari and “don’t come back until you’ve got them all.” However, what if what God wants FOR you the character of Jesus, alive and vibrant, in your life? Then, the fruit of the Spirit are gifts developed through an abiding relationship with Jesus.
This small change of wording is a dramatic change in the way you live your life in Christ. This single word exchange moves your thinking from achieving the Christian life to receiving the life of Christ. You may find it a struggle with this change. There are two human dynamics that cause your struggle:
You have learned to expect hidden agendas. This small change – from to for – rarely operates in our human relationships. Depending upon how old you are and the extent of your experience, you have discovered that just about everybody has a hidden agenda, what they want FROM you. Everybody is a player. Everybody wants something from you. Can you believe (and it is a risk of faith) that Jesus is not a player? Can you trust that he has no hidden agenda? But you have been fooled before. Dare you believe the promise of God?
You’ve learned that people want to control you. As children, we readily receive the vision, the path, and the plan our parents have for us. Most of the time, especially when we are very young, this is a good thing. But soon enough, you discover you must make your own path. However, God wants the best path FOR your life, a path that is true to your best in Christ. Dare you believe that God wants you to join Him in creating your life? Dare you believe he wants you to be free to be your best in Christ? You have been sold a bill of goods before. Yet, will you trust the promise of God?
Now, don’t push the little semantic change – from to for – beyond its ability to tease you into thinking about the basis of your Christian life. In essence,
- What God wants from you = doing what you need to do to impress God
- What God wants for you = being impressed (shaped) by the Spirit of God
The result of “What God wants for your living” is your true and best in Christ.
It is a matter of faith, faith in the promise of God. He loves you and wants all that is best for you. Will you believe the promise? Will you live into the promise? To do so is to set your life toward your true and best in Christ.
Copyright © Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.