[Lifegroup Discussion] “Have To,” or “Don’t Have To?”


There are lots of things in our life that we “have to” do that we don’t really want to do…

  • I have to finish this paperwork
  • I have to get my driver license renewed
  • I have to file my tax return
  • I have to go to the doctor

How do you feel when you have to do something you don’t want to do?

On Sunday, I tried to make the case that being obedient to God’s commands because we “have to” can never please God. What do you think about that?  Is that true, or untrue?  Why?

How do you feel when you were supposed to do something, but you are able to get out of it?

I say that experiencing grace simply because we “don’t have to” obey the Law is empty and joyless. Why?

As people of the New Covenant, why do you think the Old Covenant “have to” thinking influences us so much? How has it influenced you? Where does that come from? What is it’s result in your life?

Can “have to” really produce the “joy of the Lord?”

What about during our Year of the Bible? Have you been keeping up with your reading because you “have to?” Or maybe you have been slacking off because you “don’t have to?” Are either of these two behaviors producing joy? Why or why not?

Somehow, Psalmist David was able to find joy in the Word of God, wasn’t he? Read these verses from Psalm 119:

Psalm 119:97–112 (NLT)
Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long.
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are my constant guide.
Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your laws.
I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments.
I have refused to walk on any evil path, so that I may remain obedient to your word.
I haven’t turned away from your regulations, for you have taught me well.
How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.
Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life.

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise it again: I will obey your righteous regulations.
I have suffered much, O Lord; restore my life again as you promised.

Lord, accept my offering of praise, and teach me your regulations.
My life constantly hangs in the balance, but I will not stop obeying your instructions.
The wicked have set their traps for me, but I will not turn from your commandments.
Your laws are my treasure; they are my heart’s delight.
I am determined to keep your decrees to the very end.

Why do you think David was so passionate about keeping, remaining obedient, and meditation on the Word of God?

Do you remember the story of David? He saw God at work, saving him from death and bringing victory numerous times. He saw God at work and remembered.

( some of the times he remembered: Psalm 18:43, 31:8, 54:7, 56:13, 86:13 )

What has God done for you? What activity of God in your life is worth responding to?

Ephesians 1:6–8 (NLT)
So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

So, in view of what He has done for you, how does the following verse say we should respond to him?

Romans 13:8–10 (NLT)
Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.

So, if we want to respond to Him, the best way is to LOVE because we WANT TO.

What would THAT look like?

  • in our families
  • in our church?
  • on the job?
  • in our neighborhoods?

So what happens, if we just aren’t “feeling it?”  What if we find ourselves doing what we “have to,” or doing little because we “don’t have to?”  How can we recapture that awe and wonder?  How can we fall in love with Him again?  Here is my suggestion for you:

1. Glance backwards
Remember who you were when he first chose you. Who were you?

2. Look at the Cross
remind yourself what He did for you. Do a Bible word study on “chosen” to get started.

3. Be filled with the Holy Spirit
“be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.” -Ephesians 5:18-19

4. Give love like you are made of it.
Talk about that phrase for a minute. What does that mean? What should that look like?

John 13:34 (NLT)
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

I can’t think of a better way for us to put this into practice than the upcoming opportunities of Serve Summer.  Every year during the summer months our church practices giving love by serving in our church and in our community.

June Off
(serving our body by giving our KidZone volunteers the month off.)
last year we filled dozens of positions to show our fantastic volunteers that we love and appreciate them.

Seamless Summer
(serving our community by distributing food, reading, and showing love in tangible ways)
This is the heart of our Tower Road ministry.  We’ll spend another 8 weeks providing lunch for underserved kids every weekday.

Vacation Bible School
(serving our body AND our community by making the Gospel relevant to kids)

How can you and your group leverage these three opportunities during Serve Summer to give love like you are made of it?  To respond to God because you “want to?”

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