When Jesus faced the painful and demeaning death of a crucifixion, He put the will of the Father first, In the garden of Gethsemane, He fell on his face and prayed, saying, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). This attitude that Jesus expressed in this statement is one which He exhibited throughout His ministry. He once said, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30). He stated as His purpose, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).
The exact opposite attitude is exhibited by the Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They fought tooth and nail to exalt themselves at the expense of faithfully serving God. Jesus spoke of their actions and attitude saying, “And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feast: Which devour widow’s houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation” (Mark 12:38-40). He also stated, “But all their works they do for to be seen of men” (Matt. 23:5).
When John the Baptist came on the scene, John’s attitude was that he should decrease and that Jesus should increase. After his disciples had told him how the multitudes were flocking to Jesus, his response was, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). He had earlier stated, “but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear” (Matt. 3:11). John worked diligently to that goal, to increase Jesus and to decrease self. This is the attitude that we need to have today.
We live in a society of “self importance”, where many are as the rich man that Jesus spoke of. This rich man said, “This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:18-19). Friends, it’s time for us to wake up (Rom. 13:11) to the fact that it’s not all about us. It’s not about what we want or like but about what God wants and likes. “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). There are numerous arenas wherein we could make application to this attitude, but we have space to only consider a few.
When it comes to what one must do in order to be a Christian, a child of God, it is not what we like, want or seems good to us, but what God has commanded. God has provided through His word the prescription for eternal life. One must hear God’s word (Rom. 1:16; 10:17), believe that word (Mark 16:16), repent of all past sins (Acts 3:19), confess that Christ is the Son of God (Rom. 10:10; Acts 8:37) and be baptized into Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4). This may not be what one wants to do. It may be more than some have been told to do. One may not even be able to figure out why some part of this has to be done. However, this is God’s will, and when one decreases his or her determination to have it their own way and turns to what God wills, they will do what God has commanded.
When it comes to the church, it is not a matter of what church we like or dislike. The questions is, what is God’s will concerning the church. It is God’s will that all the saved be members of the one church which Christ built (Matt. 16:18), over which Christ is the head (Eph. 1:22-23) and of which Christ is the saviour (Eph. 5:23). All those who are saved are added to that body upon becoming God’s children (Acts 2:47; I Cor. 12:13). All those in that one body are to speak, teach and practice the same things (I Cor. 1:10). This is God’s will upon the matter. Often we hear someone say, “Attend the church of your choice”. What one needs to do is attend the church of God’s choice. This is what it means to have a “thy will be done” attitude.
Worship is a good example of where far too many have succumbed to their own will at the expense of God’s will. Though anyone who sincerely worships God will be blessed by it, worship is not for our enjoyment. Worship is a verb, something that one does and God is to be the recipient of that adoration and praise. It is God’s will that is to be considered in worship, not what we like or dislike. Jesus said, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23).
Religion in general and Christianity in particular has long been plagued with too much of the “my will” attitude and too little of the “thy will” attitude. It’s about time we took on the “thy will be done” attitude.
(Editor’s note: Send any questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org)