Articles by Stan Dean

"Have To" (vs) "Want To"

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A large group of missionaries from around the world gathered for a conference where the question was raised, “How were you converted?” As they went around the room and each gave his answer, some of the stories were quite dramatic and held the listeners spellbound. For example, there were stories like the dangers other Christians had risked in order to teach them the gospel.   

 

 Finally, they came to a man who said, “Well, my story is rather ordinary compared to most of these guys. You see, I was raised in a Christian home.” After hearing his answer someone responded, “You mean you were never converted.” “Oh yes, I was converted” he replied. “When?” asked another. He then said, “I was converted the day ‘have to’ became ‘want to.’”

 

 What a great answer! For there is truly a world of difference between “have to” and “want to.” “Have to” represents a cold attitude of obligation while “want to” displays a warm spirit of genuine desire.

 

 Which would you say best characterizes your spiritual life? To help you as you decide, consider this: Do you go to church because you “have to” or because you “want to”? Obviously, Christians understand that God commanded for us to assemble together (cf. Heb. 10:25, etc.). Yet, at the same time, we also have to recognize that there is the “spirit” or attitude of worship that is equally important (John 4:24). Thus, there is more that God expects of us than simply being present in body.

 

 Using this same idea of going to worship, consider the “want to” of David. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1). No doubt, when David went to worship, he took his heart with him. And here it seems that we have hit upon the real key. “Want to” is defined only when the heart is involved.

 

 It may well be that some who call themselves Christians need to be converted (or make a change of heart) so their unacceptable “have to” Christianity can become a genuine “want to.”