GO AHEAD AND DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO
Have you ever heard of a parent who in frustration at their child’s unwillingness to obey say, “Go ahead and do what you want to do. You’re going to anyway!”? It is usually NOT said with approval, but with the sad realization that the child has no intention of obeying (at least at the moment) a specific instruction. At times it is said for the shock value, with the hope that the child will wake up and realize that they are being disobedient and perhaps even rebellious and needs to repent.
The Bible is filled with examples of rebellion against God. As you study the history of Israel you find not only God’s patience, but the depth to which He went to try and bring them back. The Lord tried everything He could to bring them back, at times with limited results and at other times with NO response.
One example of this is found in 1 Kings 22 where Israel is governed by Ahab (and Jezebel), who has the distinction of being its most wicked king. The context records an occasion when Jehosephat, king of Judah, visits with him. Ahab invites Jehosephat to join him in taking Ramoth in Gilead. Jehosephat, being a righteous king has a request first, “Please inquire for the word of the Lord today.” (22:5) Jehosephat wanted to know if the Lord was with them. So Ahab calls for his parade of “yes men” who all told him to go and he would find great success. But Jehosephat knows they are charlatans and further requests, “Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of Him?” (22:7). Ahab’s response is, “There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” (22:8) Nevertheless, Micaiah is called and as he is prepared to see the king he is urged to “speak encouragement” (13) to the king. Micaiah clearly says that the only words he will speak are those commanded of the Lord. (14)
When the prophet finally appears before Ahab and is asked if they should go to war against Ramoth Gilead he says, “Go and prosper, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king!” (22:15) Based on the context it is obvious that Micaiah was being sarcastic and it reflected in his voice (cf. 22:15-16). In essence, what the prophet was saying was, “Go ahead and do what you want to do.” After he was rebuked (i.e. the shock effect got the king’s attention) Micaiah tells the truth. In essence he said that if Ahab went to battle he would be killed and lose. In fact, in vs. 19-23 Micaiah explains that all those who said, “go ahead” were lying and it was the Lord’s hope that he would be persuaded to go and thus perish. Ahab was WARNED NOT to go.
As you read the rest of the text you find the sad conclusion. Ahab went anyway and died in battle that day (22:29-40). I find it amazing that even after being told he would die if he went, by the only TRUE source he knew of, Ahab went anyways. The text shows efforts to avoid defeat, including wearing a disguise and dire consequences for the prophet who told him the truth, but the word of the Lord came true as a random soldier drew his bow and struck the king between the joints of his armor and he died that day. One might ask why Ahab acted as he did in the face of a direct warning from God. The answer is simple and plain – HE WANTED TO!
There is a reality that influences the overwhelming majority of people in this world: We do what we want to do. Often what this means is that we is that we think about what we want right now for ourselves. We may be warned about the consequences of continuing a certain behavior but we bulldoze ahead full force and do what we want to do anyway. There may be other things we know we need to be doing, but since we don’t want to do them, we find every conceivable excuse to get out of it. Often times we bury the truth, even from ourselves so that we won’t have to face it.
But, the fact that we do what we want to do can also be a good thing. IF what we want to do is the right thing, then it is good. That does not mean that we find the task ahead of us pleasant. It simply means that with wisdom we have weighed the consequences and determined that whatever discomfort we face in accomplishing the task is worthwhile because of the goal is worthy and right. That is why the true Christian is willing to suffer and sacrifice. It is not because he enjoys the physical misery that might be inflicted upon him but his desire to please God and do what is best for others is MORE important to him. In other words, it is what he wants to do. His desire is to please God and that is his priority. Consider Paul in Philippians 3:7-11 where he says, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
What is the point of this article? As a preacher, I realize that I have a responsibility to preach the word “in season and out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2). That means that when I notice we are not what we ought to be as a congregation or I see problems, either already here or beginning to materialize, I need to tell you the truth. Sometimes this must be done as a rebuke and/or with harsh and strong language. I will tell you: At times, because I know the attitudes that many have, what I want to say is, “GO AHEAD AND DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO!” Why? Because I know that no matter what I say, OR what the scriptures say, you are going to do what you want to do anyway. For example:
· When it comes to attendance there are some to whom I might as well say, “Go ahead and do what you want to do” because regardless of what the Bible says (Hebrews 10:24-25), you are only going to be here when you want to be here and you are NOT going to be here when you don’t want to be. I can’t do anything to change your mind!
· When it comes to our attitude toward one another as brethren I must emphasize our need to prefer one another and to love one another (Romans 12:12-16, 1 John 3:11, John 13:34-35, etc.). It must also continually warn us about how we use our tongues and attitudes (Ephesians 4:29-32, Colossians 3:8-9). But I must confess there are times I want to say, “Go ahead and do what you want to do” because there are some who think of themselves first and their demeanor shows NO intention of changing (Phil. 2:1-4).
· When it comes to living a moral life we know that God has set a HIGH standard. We have to watch what we wear, where we go, what we do, and it is not just when we are in public but also in the privacy of our own homes. Preachers are obligated to preach God’s standard of morality (Ephesians 4:17-23, Galatians 5:19-21, James 1:21, Colossians 3:8-9, etc.) and how you cannot serve God with divided loyalties (James 4:4, 1 John 2:15-16, Matthew 6:24, etc.). But sometimes I feel like saying, “Go ahead and do what you want to do.”
· When it comes to our need to reach the lost there are times when I want to say, “Go ahead and keep the gospel to yourself because it is what you want to do anyway.” But I know that God expects us to share His word with the lost just as someone did for us in times past. I know that the great commission applies to me (Mark 16:15, Matt. 28:19). I know that untold millions are dying untold and I have the truth that I must find the courage to tell them about (2 Tim. 2:2, 2 Cor. 5:10-11). I know that the TRUE church is dying in many communities and after all the excuses are scrubbed, the REASON remains that we are NOT doing our job to reach the lost. And the reason: Because we really don’t want to do it.
Other reasons could be easily be added to these, but it is my hope that the point has been made. We do what we want to do.
It has not been my intention in this article to discourage us from doing what is right. NOR am I saying that it is impossible for one who is selfishly bent on his own ways right now to ever change. Change can happen and sometimes what it takes is a strong rebuke. Just like the preaching of Peter on the day of Pentecost caused them to be “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37) so it can change hearts today. And that is why preachers keep preaching the truth and trying to motivate the congregation in the right direction. It is their job, regardless of what you do (2 Tim. 2:3-4, cf. Ezek. 3:16-21). BUT the fact remains, that no matter what is said by the preacher, the elders, your best friend OR God Himself through His word, you will do what you want to do. The question is: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DO? Only you can answer that, but be prepared for the consequences (cf. Eccl. 11:9, 12:13-14; Romans 2:1-11). Think about it!