Not The "Must I?" Of Duty
But The "May I" Of Love
By Hannah Whitall Smith
In all the ordinary forms of Christian life, service is apt to have more or less of bondage in it, that is, it is done purely as a matter of duty, and often as a trial and a cross. Certain things which at first may have been a joy and a delight become after a while weary tasks, performed faithfully perhaps, but with much secret reluctance and many wishes that they need not be done at all or at least that they need not be done so often.
The soul finds itself saying, instead of the "May I?" of love, the "Must I?" of duty. The yoke which was at first easy begins to gall and the burden feels heavy instead of light....
It is altogether the way we look at things, whether we think they are crosses or not. I am ashamed to think that any Christian should ever put on a long face and shed tears over doing a thing for Christ which a worldly man would be only too glad to do for money.
What we need in the Christian life is to get believers to want to do God's will as much as other people want to do their own will. And this is the idea of the Gospel. It is what God intended for us and it is what He has promised. In describing the new covenant in Hebrews 8:6-13, He says it shall no more be the old covenant made on Sinai--that is, a law given from the outside, controlling a man by force--but it shall be a law written within, constraining a man by love.
"I will put My laws," He says, "into their mind, and write them in their hearts." This can mean nothing but that we shall love His law, for anything written in our hearts we must love. "And putting it into our minds" is surely the same as God working in us to "will and to do of His good pleasure," and means that we shall will what God wills, and shall obey His sweet commands, not because it is our duty to do so, but because we ourselves want to do what He wants us to do. Nothing could possibly be conceived more effectual than this....
What you need to do then, dear Christian, if you are in bondage in the matter of service, is to put your will over completely into the hands of your Lord. Surrender to Him the entire control of it. Say, "Yes, Lord, yes!" to everything and trust Him so to work in you to will, as to bring your whole wishes and affections into conformity with His own sweet, and lovable and most lovely will. By Hannah Whitall Smith, from The Christian's Secret Of A Happy Life.