Why did God give us a free will?

Jan-Hein Staal

When God created mankind, He gave him something very unique. Man received a free will, so that he could make his own choices according to his own free will.

The Fall occurred because man used his free will to listen to Satan. Nevertheless, the way of salvation was made by Jesus Christ with that same free will.

You reap what you sow

God, who has all power and all wisdom, has given each person a free will, which God respects within His laws. Having a free will does not mean that we can do whatever we want without suffering the consequences, because even though we have a free will, we are still responsible for the choices that we make. We can choose to sow whatever we want, but we cannot choose what we will reap.

“For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” Galatians 6:7-8.

Respect the others’ free will

Just as God respects our free will, we also must respect the free will of others. Does that mean that we have no responsibility for anyone else? Of course not. Just think of children. If a child is very young, his parents cannot simply think, “Well, children have a free will too, so they should only do what they want to do.”

Parents are responsible for the upbringing of their children. However, as their children grow older, they must find a healthy balance between the child’s free will and the parents’ responsibility to bring that child up. We have a great deal to learn in this area. For example, as parents, we should not dominate or provoke our children; neither should we attempt to turn them into copies of ourselves. Instead, we should be examples for them, bear them on our hearts, and pray for them! We should maintain contact with them, and help them understand things clearly, instead of burdening them with a lot of rules.

Paul as an example

This also applies to our relationships with other people. It is instructive to read how Paul conducted himself toward Philemon with regards to Onesimus, the slave, who was in Rome and had been converted. “Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you …. . .” Philemon 1:8-9. He continues: “But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.” Philemon 1:14.

Serving and blessing voluntarily

This respect for one another’s free will is also fundamental when it comes to serving and giving in the church. Then wisdom can teach us the fine and delicate laws concerning our relationship with each other. On the one hand, we must never dominate one another, scold one another, or be demanding toward one another. At the same time, we must bear one another on our hearts, pray for one another, encourage and exhort one another.

Our aim must be that as many people as possible willingly, according to the desire of their own heart, enter into God’s will. Then our love for Christ will lead us into the perfect law of liberty. Then we will want to serve and bless our fellow man—voluntarily, from our heart and with joy.

This post is also available in: Norwegian Bokmål

You might also be interested in our theme page about Overcoming sin.

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