Something deep within me doesn’t want to do what God wants me to do. Even though I’ve given my whole life over to Jesus, that I constantly say, “Yes Lord,” that I sing, “I surrender all to You,” in some form every Sunday, the deepest parts of me still crave the sugary sweet temptations of sin.
I don’t think Christians like to talk about this. We have a reputation to uphold. Showing weakness demonstrates a lack of resolve — Christians will question our salvation or our “personal walk”, and others will reprimand us for not behaving like we’re supposed to. We can’t be sad, we can’t miss Bible study, and we should never, ever swear.
But at the core, it’s not about good behavior at all. Jesus did not endure pain simply to correct poor conduct.
The Bible says, “Consider Him.” (v. 3) Take a closer look. To be fair, the man was also God, so His entire life on earth was sinless — but from a cultural standpoint, His behavior wasn’t considered righteous at all. He associated with the scum of society, destroyed small town economies, broke Jewish law (traditionally speaking) several times, and threw holy fits in the temple.
This man, not unlike ourselves, but at the same time very much completely different, walked this earth, had emotions, and, yes, was tempted. Even before surrendering to be arrested, He wrestled with the possibility of avoiding the cross altogether, reconsidering the whole mission. I’m sure our daily struggles are petty compared to this kind of internal conflict, but nonetheless, He waffled a little.
Have you waffled at all? Good. You’ve pushed and put off as much as you possibly can, yet the searing hot desire remains, and the weight of everything is overwhelming and you’re thinking about quitting. That’s normal. What Jesus endured is to revive us when we’ve become “weary and discouraged” in our souls, which assumes that there will be actual times when we’re weary and discouraged.
However, there is a degree of personal responsibility that must take place, and it’s a lot simpler than you might think.
A large portion of the chapter discusses how a defining characteristic of a loving father is discipline (the NKJV uses “chasten“). Many people have not had the privilege of a quality dad, so we have to use the definition provided as the standard. We’re not to resist the discipline of God — this passage indicates that mistakes will be made, but that correction will take place afterward. And our responsibility is to accept it. Sincerely, of course. That’s it.
If you’re willing to take it, the discipline will be painful (v. 11), but the process only leads to correction — and not to be patted on the head for being a good boy or girl, but to maintain a steady walk of righteousness.
Ultimately, God is not very concerned about how quickly you can clean up your behavior, but whether you’re willing to push past the rebellion in your heart, the moment-to-moment resistance to ignore what the Father wants and what Jesus died for, and say, “Your will be done.” Our earnest desire to pursue holiness, to intentionally set out to do what’s right, is the great sacrifice our God is pleased with.