Wanting is an interesting concept. First, it’s emotionally driven; what I want today may be completely different from what I want tomorrow—or even in ten minutes. Out of control “wanting” is incredibly destructive. I remember back in the seventies, a company called Household Finance used to have a commercial that had a tag-line in it saying, “When you want something long enough, it can become a need.”
Uncontrolled “wants” can weaken our will. Yet a mature person has the ability to live a life which constantly strengthens their will. This means we must deny our wants: no piece of cake, no new car, not purchasing something which cannot be paid for this month, and on. It is the denial of our wants which strengthens our will.
For those of us who know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the most striking example of the “want vs. will” battle is found in theGospel of Luke 22:39-46. In this passage, we see Jesus Christ, the Son of God—who is God—struggling in the Garden of Gethsemane with His approaching death as He prayed to the Father.
Almost everyone who has ever attended church, Sunday School or even Vacation Bible School as a child is familiar with the events of this story. Jesus, who was fully man and yet also fully God, experienced the human condition to its fullest extent. “Sure, He experienced everything every human experiences!” No, that’s inaccurate.
Far too often, we are tempted with something (think a “want” here) and we fail and give in to the “want.” Jesus Christ, coming as the second Adam and being Virgin Born so He would be able to demonstrate what perfection really is (Adam and Eve were created perfect, yet because they sinned, we do not know what perfection is through the human condition), experiences every temptation just as every human does, yet He—Jesus—experiences temptation to the full and He defeats and overcomes it!
Who do you want to tell you what it’s like to run a marathon? The guy who starts and then quits half-way through the race (“You cannot believe how brutal a marathon is!”), or the guy who starts, finishes and wins the race (“Yeah, it was brutal, but the winning is incredible!”)?
So, Jesus Christ, in the Garden of Gethsemane, struggled with what He wanted and the will of God. No one who is sane would want to die the death of crucifixion at the hands of the Romans. There in the garden His prayers were so intense that Luke records, “And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
Now here, I must point out a not-so-minor peeve of mine. Jesus did not sweat drops of blood! I cannot count the number of teachers and pastors who claim He did. I have even heard long medical lectures about how if anyone ever does sweat drops of blood, then their death is immanent. First, Luke clearly stated “His sweat became like great drops of blood.” This is a simile, an extremely useful literary tool which enables the reader to have greater sensory appreciation for the event they are reading.
Second, and perhaps even more important, if He had sweat blood then His sacrificial death would have been unacceptable. The sacrifice had to be perfect in order to offer it to the Lord. Under the Levitical code, all sacrifices must be of the “firstfruits”—the best of the best and without any blemish.
If you’ve ever been Savannah, Georgia in the summer—or any other location where the heat and humidity are above ninety degrees and ninety percentile, our sweat is like we are sweating blood because of the increased salinity of our perspiration which in turn, increases the viscosity of our sweat. But I digress….
What we are witnessing in Christ’s struggle in the Garden is His struggle between His want and His will—and who alive has not struggled like this? There are times when even in our fallen selves we have, by God’s grace, overcome our desires and our wants and have exercised our will to not give in to the temptation we are facing.
Yet allow me to point something out for our further consideration: as God, Jesus could have exercised His will—yet he chose not to! Jesus Christ while asking for this “cup” of torment to be removed by the Heavenly Father, this suffering Jesus as God submitted Himself as a man to the Father’s will even though as God, He could have exercised His will as well and avoided the Cross.
The love God demonstrated on the Cross—the Father’s giving of His Son to die and the Son’s giving of His own life—was not a choice made at the last moment; this was a willful choice made in eternity past for Jesus to die in my place and in yours. Jesus did not want to die. Jesus, because of the love of the Father, Son and Spirit, made the choice in eternity past to demonstrate how much God loves us so we have the opportunity to live with Him forever.
If we desire the ability to exercise more “will” and less want, we too must make our choices now. Not in the moment of “want.”
Writing a blog is a labor of love; though going through and dealing with the spam is more often just like labor!
It is humbling when I read the comments many have taken the time to make on this site. The vast majority are exceptionally encouraging, the ones not in the “vast majority” fall under the headings of either “spam” or they are just annoying . . . .
First, let me get the “business” part of this post out of the way!
I am writing using WordPress as my blogging platform. I have received nothing less than excellent support and help from the WordPress staff. They have sent me not just the answers to my immediate questions, but they have also included helpful hints on site management and dealing with the dreaded scourge called “spam!” I have yet to figure out a way to minimize the amount of spam which accumulates in my spam filter. Unfortunately, there are far too many legitimate and good comments which may often get thrown out with the spam.
I pay a very nominal fee for a custom URL (“jimgrieme.com”). If my web traffic continues to increase, I may invest in their “Premium” services which add to the cost, but the value is worth the expense. There are other blogging platforms available, yet since I am very pleased with the service and flexibility I receive from WordPress, I am not motivated to look for another service.
Second, to those of you who take the time to read my posts: I have been getting a significant number of Polish readers and allow me to say (using Google translate here; I’m good but not that good!)
Jestem bardzo wdzięczny za tych z Państwa w Polska, którzy czytają mojego bloga. Moim pragnieniem jest, aby jasno komunikować swoje pomysły i fakt, czytasz to pozwala mi wiedzieć, to jest realizowane! Pokornie dziękuję za czytanie! Jestem Pastor i modlę się Pan nadal będzie chronić Ciebie i Twój kraj w tych czasach niepokojów politycznych na kontynencie. Bożego błogosławieństwa na was!
To my Italian readers:
Grazie per aver letto il mio blog! Ho amato il suo paese da quando ero bambino e il mio desiderio è quello di presentare le idee chiare, Dio onorare in un modo che farà la gente a pensare con la mente e il loro cuore. Sono molto grato per il vostro tempo e attenzione! Molte grazie! Benedizioni di Dio!
And of course there have been a few Russian visitors as well!
Добрый день! Пусть наш Господь продолжать покрывать вас Своей благодатью! Спасибо вам большое за прочитав мои мысли я написал здесь! Я возжелал посетить вашу землю с моих дней в колледже – Я изучал Россию, ее земля и ее народ и лелеяли все это! Время, которое вы потратили читаете этот блог отрадно и унизительно. Спасибо вам большое! Джеймс melvinovich.
In my world, I must struggle to find time to write. Many times I will begin with an idea, write as many as two or three pages then end up deleting all I have written! Yet even when I follow this process, I may end up enunciating an idea which will eventually become the main idea of what I finally write. The very act of putting “words on paper” often allows me to solidify my “final” idea!
Now remember, I am a pastor (No, no, I really am a pastor! I realize very well I do not “act” like most pastors act and I’m good with that!) When someone says to me, “You’re not like most pastors!” I interpret this as a compliment! My desire is not to be either crude or rude or even to act like some “unholy teenager with an attitude problem!” My desire is to be real! I struggle with the same things every other person struggles with: money, politics, thoughts and ideas. I sin, I do not break into a Christian hymn when I hit my finger with a hammer and I get frustrated at the number of proverbial “morons” I encounter while driving!
So what’s the difference? Years ago I encountered a person who has demonstrated He truly loves me. He knows all of my weaknesses and my issues. He has given me the ability to be better than who I am. He has forgiven me, changed me, and if there is anything good in me at all, it is because of the person Jesus Christ!
My desire is to write in a manner which is real and fully human. I would like those who take the time to read to actually enjoy yourself and understand the ideas I am communicating. It is my prayer the Lord will use who I am and what I’ve written in such a way as to draw people to Him.
Grace to all of you!