Three Times "To"

It was my hope that upon seeing the title of this lesson that you would, at first, think it was a spelling mistake. This time, however, it isn’t a typo. The word "to" is not very substantial all by its self but when it is paired with the right companion word it is very powerful. It is amazing what people are able to do, when they are faced with pairing of words like: “Have to”; “want to”; or “stick to”.

When one has to, wants to, or is determined to stick to, they can do what is necessary. Let’s apply these points to our consideration of pleasing God in this life to see if they will help us achieve our goal.

First you must “want to”

There is a question to be asked and its answer is all that separates each of us from the achievement of success. The question is, “Do you want to?” This is an individual question, because no matter how much the Lord, or anyone else, wants you to do something you will not do it unless you begin to want to (Matthew 23:37). There are those who are interested in the idea of a Savior; and the help of greater advice like the Scriptures but, when the advice is given, they don’t want it. Rich young ruler is a classic example—Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me” (Matthew 19:16-22). It is certain that he was looking to get to Heaven—to inherit eternal life—but what he really wanted more was to hold onto his riches and so he didn’t want to do what the Lord said. Felix also demonstrated a lack of want (Acts 24:24-27). Felix sent for Paul and wished to reason with him about faith and he might have been truly interested in changing his life and pleasing God, but he let fear dictate his reaction and stop his want for the truth. Also King Agrippa shows us that almost wanting to, is not enough (Acts 26:27-29). Agrippa believed that the scriptures taught the same Savior that Paul believed in and followed, but because of fear, or pride, or doubt, Agrippa was limited to only “almost” believing, he didn’t want to enough. We all know that almost is never enough.

There are many who just do not want to, because they think they are okay, just the way they are.  They are falsely-confident in their own belief, like those in Matthew 7:21-23. Many believe they are already saved; they are doing good works; and they are acceptable to God—so, in their own mind, they don’t want anything more. Some don’t want to because of family history (Matthew 10:37-38). There are so many who are pulled by heartstrings, to refuse obedience because of long family traditions of faith. For others it is the refusal to declare a loved one’s failure in their relationship to God. Some just don’t want to give up the world (Matthew 6:24); there are many individuals who know they need to obey but they are not finished with worldly pleasures, or worldly goals (1 John 2:15-17). To even begin on the pathway of hope each of us must “want to”.

And do what you “have to”

When one comes to the realization of “have to” they usually discover an ability within themselves that gets whatever it is done. The reality of a “have to” may be something like a law—we have to follow the law; a set goal—in order to achieve “____” you have to “______”; or perhaps a crisis—if someone is going to be helped, you have to help them. Once, we “want to” please God there is more to it than just want. Truth is that if you “want to” please God; there are things you “have to” do. If you want to love Jesus, you have to keep His commandments (John 14:15). If you want to please God, you have to find out what is acceptable to Him (Ephesians 5:8-10) and do those things (Romans 12:1). If you want to be saved, you have to believe, with all your heart, that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew Acts 8:36). You have to repent of your sins (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 17:30; 2 Peter 3:9). You have to be baptized in water for the remission of your sins (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; John 3:5; Acts 2:38). You have to enter your new life in Christ. The Scriptures say, “Rise and walk in the newness of life” (Romans 6:1-4). We have to put off the old man and put on the new man—true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:17-32; Colossians 3:1-10).

Then “stick to”

It is very important to “want to” and it is also necessary to know the things that “have to” be done; but then when these things are accomplished there also needs to be a third part and that is being determined to “stick to” the way. Anyone can become a Christian but it takes determination to stay the course. Life’s trials can and will cause resistance to the forward movement of faith. It is our personal determination that will make the difference. Some will fail when the heat is turned up (John 6:66; 2 Timothy 4:10). Some will hold fast and come through the fire to be stronger (1 Peter 1:6-9). You are able stick to the path and find your reward in Heaven. You must trust the possibility of your success, so you will not give up. Jesus said, “…difficult is the way that leads to life and there are few that find it” (Matthew 7:14). But Jesus also said it was possible if you “abide in His word”—His word will set you free (John 8:31-32). He showed you the way (1 Peter 2:21-23). He prepared for you a place (John 14:6). All of these facts are based on the very real possibility of your success, if you stick to the path (Hebrews 10:35-39; 2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 2:10).

People are able to do great things when they decide that they “want to”; are faced with the fact they “have to”; and they willingly “stick to” the plan. God’s reward is for those who want to do His will. No matter how much the Lord, or anyone else, wants you to do something; you will not do it unless you begin to “want to”. Today, do you want to be saved? That is where you hope begins. There are some things that you have to do and you can stick to God’s plan and find true success. Are you “ready to” begin, right now?