Have you ever tried to make someone love you? My first thought was actually of this old dog of my mom’s. I don’t even remember the dog’s name, but every time I would go over there, that dog would growl at me. She didn’t like me sitting in her spot. Oh goodness! That was the worst! And if I got too close to my step-dad or mom, boy! She would start bearing those vicious teeth. She was only about 15-20 pounds, maybe, and some sort of terrier mix we assumed. She did not like me. I couldn’t understand it! I’m an animal person! I would baby talk to her, I would not make sudden movements, and I would try to let her come to me instead of the other way around.
Could I have forced her to love me? I think that’s like trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole. It just doesn’t work like that.
You feel that with your kids, right? I WANT you to WANT to take out the trash without being asked. I WANT you to WANT to try harder. Them, you can force, but it doesn’t mean they will ever WANT to on their own.
And when it comes to people loving you, well, you can’t force that either. No matter what you do or how you change for them, it will not make them love you. They either do or they don’t. Anything forced isn’t true. It has to be of their own free will.
In Leviticus 19, God details how the Israelites should live a holy life. In verse 5, He says, “And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, ye shall offer it at your own will.”
A peace offering was divided into three kinds really, depending on the purpose. A thanksgiving offering would be when someone wanted to thank God for helping them through an illness or a bad situation. A vow offering was made when a person fulfilled their vow to God. And finally, a voluntary offering was just that. It didn’t need any special reason. Just because… (Lev. 7:29-30)
But none of it was forced. The key phrase to this scripture is “at your own will.”
God demands certain acts of us, attitudes and obedience, but He will not make you love Him.
In the garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve they could eat of anything they wanted except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17).
While everything was perfect, God still had to give Adam and Eve the free will to choose to love Him by obeying His one law. He wouldn’t force them, or it wouldn’t be true.
Today, God gives us that same choice. We can choose to love Him and accept Him as our Savior or we can choose not to. However, the consequences are eternal. If we choose to love God, we recognize that He gave His life for us. We choose to believe in His power and reign and we give our lives in service to Him as a peace offering, a thanksgiving offering. We will spend eternity in Heaven with God and other believers because of that choice.
However, if we choose not to believe that God is the Creator of all, the ultimate authority and that His Son Jesus Christ gave His life for our sins and was raised from the dead, we will spend eternity living with that choice. That eternity is spent separated from God. I want you to think how long eternity is… we cannot fathom. But it’s not just spent away from God. It’s spent in Hell, a place of torment, fire and brimstone. The scripture says there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Cries so deep and desperate because of the pain and torment, but nothing ends it.
How could God do that? If He is so great a God, if He loves everyone, why not let everyone into Heaven?
That was His plan, but He gave us a choice. We choose to sin. We choose to make the decisions that we do that are against God. We choose to rebel, to refuse Him, to deny His existence, to deny that Jesus is the only way. And we have to live with that choice for eternity.
What will you choose? He won’t force you to love Him, but one day we will all bow before Him. Will you bow in honor of Him because you have accepted His offer of life? Or bow in fear and terror because you have chosen death?