A Christian alive in the year 1513 met a Christian alive in 2013:
1513 Christian: Man only proposes, but it is God Who disposes.
2013 Christian: The Bible only infers, but We do what we prefer.
Isn't that the agenda and temptation of today's believer? We know what God's word says, but we just don't feel like it. It's not that the 1513 Christian always did God's will. Far from that-- Christians of every age have failed God and have "preferred" their own way. The difference is many of today's Christians openly rebel and refuse to blush. Completely unashamed and even offended by any call to repentance, so many in our churches are most happy when expressing what's on their heart and most bored when challenged to discern God's heart as expressed in the text of scripture.
So how do we get past ourselves and do what we know is right to do?
Webster defines discipline as, "training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character... orderly prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior." So if we're disciplined, it means we've been worked on by some outside force and have been through enough drills such that, with the proper attention to correct thinking, we overcome our emotions and we do what is right. So the answer is discipline, right?
I don't think so... at least not entirely.
Discipline is cold. And unlike other cold things such as ice cream and cash, discipline rarely makes a person smile. Many of us have worked hard at becoming 'more disciplined' only to find our disciplined selves defeated yet again by the boiling, red-hot passions that rage within us. I'm not saying that discipline isn't part of the answer to doing what is right. I'm just saying that it's not the whole answer.
Re-programming isn't enough. What we need is a new passion. We need a new love. We need to embrace a goal and craving even bigger than self-satisfaction. Being disciplined is good, but it's lifeless compared to being driven. I met the LORD on my knees back in 1986 and over the last 26 years, I've become convinced of this one thing: knowing what's right is not the problem... a love for doing what is right-- THAT'S what's missing.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Remember Gethsemane? Jesus was not a cross-lover. It was on His "to do list", but it didn't have little hearts dancing around it. He didn't endure the most shameful kind of death ever invented because He was disciplined. Scripture does not deny the shame of the cross and in fact, a few bible verses actually highlight and emphasize the shame of crucifixion. But Jesus got past the shame by embracing another emotion: joy. He was driven by the end product of the painful circumstance and therefore counted the displeasure a small thing in comparison. Can fulfilling my own desires take me further than fulfilling God's will?
Forgive my enemies? I'd prefer not to. Pray for someone who hurts me? I'd prefer not to. Look after the needs of people who can't help me in my worst moments but swore they would? I'd prefer not to. Well, look at the Cross and consider the One on it: He did all these things and more, although He "preferred not to". And the more cross-centered our lives are, the more we stop making our emotions/goals into gods, the more we desire Christ-likeness more than what we like... we'll be doing all kinds of things we don't want to do. But I'm betting my life that there's more joy in that than anything else.
May God give me a pure preference for His pleasure and not my own. Amen.