I like to give people outs. When making plans or asking for favors I am intentional to make numerous, well-marked and maintained exit ramps available for the other party so they can exit at their earliest convenience. I hate obligating people and making them feel uncomfortable (there’s that people pleaser thing popping up again) so I try to impose upon people as delicately and as non-committal as possible.
As I was reading the Bible this morning, I learned that I’m not the only one who does this: people did this to Jesus too!
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
I love the faith this leper had: he went up to someone! He was supposed to be segregated and in a community with people like him, isolated and fearful that this disease would spread to others. Yet, he was willing to take a step toward his healing; he took responsibility for his fate.
What’s even more incredible to me is Jesus’s response. He makes it abundantly clear that God is indeed willing to do what he needs to do for his children to be cleansed. He was upset that the leper doubted or gave him an out because Jesus was poised and ready to heal those who came to him. Yet the leper’s doubt or questioning didn’t disqualify him from healing. The little faith he had was enough.
One of the most amazing things about God is that he’s not just concerned with the surface; he cares about the heart. The leper was concerned about his outward problem, leprosy, but Jesus was more focused on the state of his heart, mind, and soul. How often do we come to God with some external problem that we’re wanting him to fix, as if he were a genie granting us wishes? I wonder if these external issues that we request (or sometimes demand) to be fixed are there to expose an internal issue the Lord wants to work on. The leper’s greatest problem wasn’t his health (it was a problem but not the biggest one), his need for forgiveness and a restored relationship with God was his greatest need, something Jesus willingly fulfilled. The leper’s greatest need and our greatest need are the same and Jesus has already taken care of that.
The Bible tells us that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so that same God who was willing 2000+ years ago is willing today. He longs for us to come to him and accept him; he has done everything possible for us to have a relationship with Him, we just need to come.
And, because he has fulfilled our greatest need, we can be sure he will meet those other needs as well. God doesn’t need us to give him outs. He doesn’t need us to add addenda or caveats to our prayers or requests. He is indeed willing.
He who did not spare [even] His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?