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Vol.  9  No. 8 August 2007  Page 17
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Robert JohnsonNot As I Will, But As You Will

By Robert Johnson

    Such are the words of Jesus as he prayed to the Father in the Garden, before he was arrested and crucified. While he did not look forward to the agony, he knew what the cross would bring. He was determined to make sure his motives and will were in harmony with the will of God. At no time in the ministry of Christ could it be said that he served God from selfish motives, that he used others to get what he personally wanted for himself. In purity of heart and love for others, he served them, even at the cross.

    Not everyone who claims to follow Jesus has such a spirit as the Lord, even though we are commanded to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). No doubt James and John thought they were serving their Lord when they suggested to him that fire be commanded from heaven to consume a Samaritan town that refused to receive Jesus (Luke 9:54). Jesus turned and rebuked them, and while some Greek manuscripts lack the last part of verse 55, it is true they did not know “what kind of spirit” they possessed. They did not have the spirit of Christ.

    When Paul exhorted the Christians in Philippi to have the mind of Christ, it came after urging them to “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit” (2:3), to not “look out for your own personal interests” (2:4). The very nature of sin is to deceive us into thinking wrong is right, in our motives as well as our actions. It is a very real possibility for some to serve God from impure motives, to do things they have convinced themselves to be for the glory of God when it really is for the glory of self, when it is human desire being expressed rather than divine will. Earlier Paul spoke of some proclaiming Christ “out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives” (1:17).

    The question isn’t whether one can be deluded into thinking one’s plans and desires are that of God’s when they’re not. The question is whether one ever stops to ask oneself what Jesus prayed, “Not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). Is there any honest soul searching, or has one’s desires misled one into thinking wrongly about one’s motives? I have no doubt it must have shocked the brethren in Sardis to hear the Lord tell them, “I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” (Revelation 3:1). What about the church in Laodicea, who were convinced they were self-sufficient before God, but in reality they were “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (3:17). If the Lord spoke to us today, what would we hear from him about the motives of our hearts, and the actions of our lives? Would we be surprised that, by not examining ourselves, we may have duped ourselves about ourselves?

    I have always contended the greatest challenge for any Christian is to be honest with himself. To really probe the depths of one’s heart can be frightening, because of what we might find, so we erect a façade that fools even ourselves about who we are. We should follow the advice of Paul to the Corinthians, and “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” (2 Corinthians 13:5a). Perhaps we are too afraid we would fail the test (2 Corinthians 13:5b), so we don’t. But we won’t avoid the heart exam God will give on the day of judgment. If we don’t look at ourselves now, we will be forced to then, and the end result may not be what we think. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13).

    Now is the time to allow the living and active Word of God to openly and honestly evaluate our motives and lives (Hebrews 4:12). Now is the time to make sure we really have the mind of Christ, “not as I will, but as You will.” If you look at yourself candidly in the mirror of the Word, the mirror to our souls (James 1:22-25), what do you see?

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