Ed, my neighbor next door, was pretty grouchy yesterday. He claimed he was out of sorts, because he spent hours in his truck the day before trying to locate a farm. The farm he was looking for has farm machinery advertised for sale in the city paper. The farm was to be found two miles south and a mile west of a little place that has five houses and a closed-up store at the intersection of two gravel roads. The little place, or ghost town, was to be found 29 kilometers from a highway that is no longer paved. It once was paved, but now it is a mixture of broken asphalt, giant potholes, and thin gravel sections that ensure the traffic will not go over the speed of an oxcart. Not only was Ed unable to find the farm, he got a stone chip in his truck’s windshield. Ed summed it up this way, “I spent costly gas on a wild goose chase. Such a waste of both time and money would make anyone grumpy.”
Some people feel income tax time should make everyone grumpy. They see it as the grim time of the year when people must get their T4s and T5s in order. Income tax can be a good time for those who get money back, but for many it means paying money that they don’t want to, but are forced to.
“I don’t want to – but I have to,” often starts with school. Some students say regularly that they don’t want to go to school, but they are forced to go. In fact, some play hooky or skip school to prove they really don’t want to be there. When it comes to work, some say they don’t want to go to work, but they are forced to if they are to get a pay cheque.
It seems the ideal is when you are doing what you want to do, not what you feel forced to do. Freedom of choice is good if what we want to do is for our ultimate good or for the welfare of others. We like the idea that everything is permissible for us. It is hard to accept the truth that not everything is beneficial or constructive for us. Getting what we want, seeking our own pleasure or benefit and getting it, can sometimes be far worse for us than doing what we have to do.
God’s word speaks of the ideal as this: “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” The Bible shows undeserved love as the essence of God. A love that is about wanting to do what needs to be done to help, save, rescue and restore others. Jesus was and is the love of God in action. In Lent, Christians remember Christ’s willingness to be a substitute for all of us. He was willing to suffer and die on the cross for sinners. We don’t want to waste time or money, but Jesus was willing to lose his righteousness and life so they can be a blessing for all who will receive them. With Christ, it was a willingness to lay down his life, a willingness to bear the sins of all in his body, so that others could be healed by his wounds. Mainly what we have to do or are willing to do is small in comparison.