Willing & Able
The way I see it there are 3 different groups you can put the children of God in and all 3 of these groups† can be described by these 2 words willing and able. Now as we look at these groups we will first look at Biblical example and then we will make application to us today. Our first group can be described as Willing but not able.
The first example that comes to mind is David. Now I think we would all agree that for the most part David was both willing and able but there one particular instance in his life where he was willing to do something for God but not able and we can find this in,
2 Samuel 7:1 Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies all around,† 2 that the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains."† 3 Then Nathan said to the king, "Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you."
Here we see that David great desire to build temple for God. He understood that the only reason why he was so successful and had such a beautiful home to live in was because of God and so it was in his heart to build this temple for God so that the ark did not have to remain in tent curtains. However David was not going to be able to do this because God would not allow him to. The reason why is explained by David himself in,
1 Chronicles 28:2 Then King David rose to his feet and said, "Hear me, my brethren and my people: I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and for the footstool of our God, and had made preparations to build it.† 3 "But God said to me, 'You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood.'
So here we have a great example of someone who willing but not able to provide this service for God. In fact as you continue on in that chapter you see that his son Solomon would be the one that would be able to build the temple.
In the NT there are several examples and I just want to mention them briefly. First of we know that Paul many times found himself in prison and he had a great desire to go visit certain places like Rome and other places that he been before but because of his situations he wasnít able to go to all the places he wanted to. Also there were many times that Paul wanted to stay longer and teach the people about Jesus but because of the Jews that wanted him dead he wasnít able to stay and always had to be on the move. Then we cant forget the many the Christians during that time the were willing to teach the truth but were not able to teach it to some because they would not listen.
Now I want you to think about how this applies to us today. There are many in the church today who are willing but not able to do what they want to. First of all we face some of the same problems that the first century Christian did in that many of us are willing to share the good news of Jesus to others but we are not able many times because so many today are not willing to listen. Many in the world today are like Felix who told Paul he would hear him another day. However we also have many in the church today who are willing to serve God and they have a great desire to get busy for the Lord but they are not able do many things they would like to because they just cant physically do it. I know there are many older people who used to do all kinds of things for God when they were able to do it and they wish that they still were able to do those things but they cannot. I am sure it makes those who are willing and not able very sad when they look around at their congregation and they see those who are fully able to do things yet they do nothing. You see they would love trade places with those who able but not willing so that they could get busy for the Lord once again.
That leads us to our next group of people who are able but not willing to serve the Lord. First lets look as some Biblical examples. The first example that comes to mind in Moses. Although Moses ended up being a great leader and servant of God he started out on rocky ground as we will see in,
Exodus 3:1 Now
Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian.
And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the
Now at this time Moses is† 80 years old and for the last 40 years he had simply been a father and a Sheppard and now God was calling to take on the enormous task and God know that Moses was able to do this. But notice Moses response,
11 But Moses said to God, "Who am
I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of
Here we see a classic case of someone who able but not willing. This was just the beginning of Moses try to get of doing that which he was able to do. Because after this he began to question God on how the people are going to believe and God shows him several miraculous signs that he can show the people to convince them. But still Moses wasnít finished notice what he says next in,
Exodus 4:10 Then Moses said to the LORD, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue."† 11 So the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?† 12 "Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say."† 13 But he said, "O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send."† 14 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said: "Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.†
Moses tries to give the excuse that he wasnít an eloquent speaker but this was a lie because Stephen tells us Act 7:22 the Moses was mighty in his words. Then Moses stop making and excuses and tells God what is really on his heart and that is he is not willing to go an he want God to send someone else. But thankfully even though Moses was old he came around finally became willing to do what he was able to do.
We could look at many
other Biblical examples of this such as Jonah and how he was able to preach to
Or we could look Jeremiah who was a very young man when God called him to service and who tried to give the excuse that he was to young to speak the word of God. We could also look at NT example like the rich young ruler who talked to Jesus who able to give up his riches but was not willing to do so or we could look again at Felix who was able to listen to what Paul had to say about salvation but he was not willing to do so at the time. Friends this is a sad condition to be in when you are able but not willing to serve the Lord.
Again every congregation is made up people who are able but not willing to serve the Lord. We can see this a variety of ways. One way of looking at this is that we have many in the church today who are willing to come to the church services part of the time but they are not willing to come to all the services that they are capable of making it to. This can be illustrated but using our attendance here at Lone Grove. I have taken the last 3 months of attendance and averaged them together and here is the results. Sunday morning we averaged 80 in attendance, Sunday night 48 and Wednesday night 50. Now I know that some of those who attend on Sunday mornings are visitors and that some of you have to work that night or wed night but I think we all know that there are some out of these 30 people that are able to make to make it on Sunday night and Wednesday night but simply are not willing to do so and I think we can all agree that we can improve in this area.
Now I donít know what works for you but I will tell you what works for me and keeps me motivated to make it to all the services I able to go to and that is thinking about how Jesus purchased the church with his own blood. You see when I think about how much God loved me and all that he has done for me so that I can have salvation and home in heaven then I canít help but to take advantage of every opportunity I have to worship him and learn as much as I can about him and to be with be with my brothers and sister in Christ. Now this of course is just one aspect of our service to God, because there are many in the church today who are fully capable of being Bible class teachers yet they unwilling to do it. We have men in the church today who are capable of being spiritual leaders and taking on the responsibility of being elders but they are not willing to serve.
The same this is true when comes to visiting the sick or wayward, many are able to do this but not willing. Finally many are fully able to invite people to church or to talk to them about God but they are simply not willing.
Can you imagine how strong the church would be today if every single Christian stopped making excuses for what they are capable of doing? How about you? I want you to examine yourself and ask yourself the question Am I both willing and able or am I making excuses for service to God because I am not willing serve him with my whole heart?
Now our finally group this morning can be described as both willing and able and we certainly have a many Biblical examples of such individuals.
I am reminded Noah and his family. How they were both willing and able to follow the path of righteousness and have enough faith and trust in God to build that ark which took over 100 years to build and yet Noah never tried to make excuse of why he couldnít do it.
I also think about Abraham and how he waited for a long time to have his son that God promised him and then once he had him and was able to cherish him but God tested as we read in,
Genesis 22:1 Now it
came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him,
"Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."† 2 Then He said, "Take now
your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the
Now put yourself in Abrahams shoes and try your best to think how you have waited all this time to† finally have a child and now God is asking you to take the life our your child. Now everyone would be physically capable of doing it but it would be very challenging to be willing to obey this command. However as we read we donít see any hesitation or questioning of God will. No Abraham was both willing and able to carry out Godís command and Abraham was willing to go all the way as we continue in verse,
Genesis 22:6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.† 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." Then he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"† 8 And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together.† 9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.† 10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.† 11 But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" So he said, "Here I am."† 12 And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."
Just as Abraham was about to take the fatal blow the Angel of the lord stopped him just in the nick of time. This is a great example of what it means to be both willing and able.
Meshack, Shadrack and abendego are great examples of this as well. We know that they refused to bow down to the idol that King Nebucanezer had made and the king even gave them a second chance to bow down so they didnít have to face the fire but they wound not do it because they were both willing and able to remain true to God.
One last OT example that I like is found in Isaiah 6 where God is looking for someone that he can send to deliver his message and then Isaiah says Isaiah 6:8 Ö Here am I! Send me." Again we donít see any excuses given all we see is a child of God who is both willing able to serve his lord.
Of course there are many examples of this in the NT as well, and I want to point out at least one these examples which is found in,
2 Corinthians 8:1 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia:† 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.† 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing,† 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.† 5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.
Here we have this church at Macedonia that not were willing and able to give of themselves and their means they were even willing to this beyond their ability and Paul forever records this for us in this chapter.
There also many in the church today who are willing and able to serve God. Christians like this are the backbone of the congregation and it wasnít for them not very much would get done. This is something that we all need work toward. It would be so wonderful if every person did what they able to do. That one the wonderful things about God is that he knows what you are capable of and he doesnít expect you to do more than you can he simple wants you do your best. A great illustration of this is found in,
Mark 14:3 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.† 4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, "Why was this fragrant oil wasted?† 5 "For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor." And they criticized her sharply.† 6 But Jesus said, "Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me.† 7 "For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.† 8 "She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.† 9 "Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her."
This story shows us without a doubt that God will be pleased with us when do what we can just as Jesus was pleased with this women.
But the question become are you doing what you can?
I hope this lesson this morning has encouraged you to stop making excuses for why you cant do this or that and instead I hope you will start being more willing to do those things which you are able to do for the Lord.