The War of the Wills
Matthew 26:39 My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.
I often find myself in conflict between two wills in opposition to each other. I want to lose weight but I really like donuts. I want to be in good shape but I would rather sit on the couch. I intend to pursue time with God but I am very busy (on the couch eating donuts perhaps).
I want what is right but that often takes too much effort and does not lead to immediate gratification. I lack self-control, so I settle for satisfying my appetite with immediate pleasure which almost always leads me away from where I truly want to be. Then I get frustrated with myself and swear to do better next time. When the next time comes around, nothing has changed and I repeat the cycle again for the thousandth time.
Life is an ongoing battle of wills. As long as we live in this body, we will be subject to its defective desires for immediate gratification. This has different manifestations for different people. Some wrestle with food while others struggle with pride, image, greed, lust, drugs, bitterness, anger or affirmation.
We do have a higher will though. We know how to provide ourselves with pleasure now but we also know how to pursue something better. We know that if we forgo instant gratification, we can achieve something even more satisfying, without the destructive consequences. This higher will always leads to the better thing but we rarely see it as we are usually consumed with pleasure now.
Jesus apparently knew this war of the will. In the garden of Gethsemane, on the night of his betrayal and arrest, He was deeply troubled about his imminent torture and death. He knew the higher purpose of what was coming, but that did not mean that it was not going to hurt horrifically. He knew of the eternal good his death would achieve, but His flesh nature rebelled at the thought of what was ahead.
What was Jesus’ response? Did He insist on his own way or did He stick his head in the sand and pretend that He had no conflict? No, He was honest with himself and with the father. He went to God, telling him of his struggle. He told him that frankly, He preferred not to follow God’s plan. He would honestly rather avoid the coming pain, torture and death.
Then, in magnificent example to all of us, He chose to turn from his will. Jesus told God that ultimately, He just wanted the father’s will to be done. Not as I will, but as you will. Jesus was honest about his desires, but in the end, he surrendered to what He knew was right.
This is not just a prayer that I need to pray. It is how I am to live. In every choice, every day, I must examine my will to see if I am pursuing me and destruction or if I am pursuing God and life.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.