In my teen years after my dad left our family, I worked several different jobs. They included farm work baling hay and painting fence posts, de-tasseling corn, cutting weeds around an old factory, making pizzas at a restaurant, delivering furniture, and even working as a camp counselor.
But I had a friend who grew up wealthy and only worked 'soft' jobs if at all, knowing he would grow up to inherit the family business. He didn't know what he had, or what it was like to suffer lack.
Free will allows us to know all we have and what we don't have
In my work I learned my physical abilities. I learned to control my emotions and how far I could push my body. I learned to budget money and know the value of a paycheck. I learned many life-lessons by using my free will to work and earn money. Exercising free will gave me that experience.
When Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy 2, and told him to work like a soldier to please Him who enlisted him. In that day the Roman Empire drafted men who had the toughest lives. They wanted farmers and ranchers and shepherds, construction workers and laborers. They wanted young men who knew the rough life for they knew they could endure the hardship that goes with being a soldier.
In our day a Christian may look at their rough life, their horrible upbringing, the mistakes they have made or injury inflicted upon them, and think that disqualifies them in the Lord. Some even doubt that He would want them. They mistakenly think because they struggle with their past God does too. They are wrong.
He doesn't struggle with your past, He values it because He knows that is what makes you a great soldier in Him. Jesus died and was resurrected so you could know the power of overcoming your past. You know the devil, you know your own weaknesses, you know the grace of Christ. You are exactly who He is looking for!
By your free will you have discovered the heights and depths the world has to offer, and have found Christ! The exercising of your free will is the means by which you have discovered what you have in Him. If you merely coasted through life you would never know what He has given you, and that there is a hell to lose and a heaven to gain.
Free will gives purpose and meaning to life
Purpose is the belief that something has a use or reason for being. Meaning is the value we assign to that. It means having free will given by our Creator proves we have a purpose, a reason for being. Additionally, knowing we are in Christ gives us meaning - we are children of the Father, nobility in His kingdom. We have purpose and meaning.
Many Christians come to the Lord searching for purpose and meaning for their life. We come 'as we are', meaning very often we come to Jesus valuing our lives based on our life experience, looking over our shoulders at our past. But we must exercise that same free will that led us to Christ by doing what Paul had to do: "I don't count myself as having attained...but what I do is this...forgetting those things that are behind; I press toward the mark for the high calling (invitation) of God in Christ Jesus.' (Philippians 3:13-14)
He is waiting on you
Because we are 100% responsible for our lives, we can move in any direction we wish. Some people come to a standstill in life waiting for God to tell them what to do. Most often though, He responds to our decision. When I was a teenager after my dad had left our family, I was looking for what I wanted to do with my life. I took art lessons, SCUBA lessons, flying lessons, and dropped out of them all because I was looking for that one thing that would fulfill me.
When I met the Lord I went straight to the Father and found total fulfillment and purpose. Though at the time I doubted that Jesus and the Father would even want my offer to be in their service, at least I knew I would end up in heaven. But He was simply waiting for me to work through my thoughts and my emotions, eliminating the possibilities of what I'd do with my life, until I found Him.
I could have followed through my high school plans and studied to become a Marine Biologist, and I would have been a great Marine Biologist who was a Christian. He would have been fine with that. I could have followed up on my college major, which was Recreation and Parks Management with a minor in Wildlife Management. I could have been a Park Ranger guiding people to the natural wonders of nature, and He would have been fine with that. But He let me work through the mechanism of free will as I eliminated what I really wanted in life, to walk with Him and help others know Him as well.
It was free will that caused me to search for that purpose in life. That means exploring for the purpose, why we were put on the planet, is healthy, even godly, for in that process we discover what He has put inside us, and what He has not.
Free will forces us to make choices
Adam and Eve were created and purposely placed in a garden that made them use their free will to choose Life or death. Israel was purposely brought out of Egypt to receive God's Word, and then told 'I have set before you this day life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life...' God was forcing them to make a choice.
In John 6:1-13 a group of 5,000 men plus women and children came to Jesus, and He wanted to feed them. "He said to Philip; 'Where are we going to buy food so we can give them something to eat?' This He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He was going to do."
God does not test us with evil; He tests us with choices. He sets before us choices and then watches us to see what we choose. And because we choose either wisely or unwisely, either the path of life and blessing or the path of death, we are 100% responsible and cannot blame Him for anything. He will always do what He can for us, based on what we choose.
Free will allows us to know what we have, and what we don't have. Free will gives purpose and meaning to life. Free will forces us to make choices, forces us to be responsible for our actions, and in all these things we grow as human beings, and grow as human beings in Christ. Free will also means we have emotions, for robots have no emotions...and we'll pick it up there next week to close out the series. Until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org