“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” -Matthew 26:41 NKJV
This is so true- these words Jesus spoke to the disciples in the garden. In our spirits, we are willing. We purpose in our hearts to pray more, to read the Bible more, to do what Jesus has called us to do. Our desire is to be world-changing people. In our dreams, whether spoken or unspoken, we can see ourselves serving on the foreign mission field; we want to be like those heroes of the faith that have gone before. We crave revival, masses of people turning to God in repentance and surrender.
There is willingness in our hearts to make change happen in other ways, too. It’s easy to see that in making New Year’s Resolutions. People want to exercise more and to make better choices in what they eat, among sundry other things. I have lofty ideas of someday running a 5k, even though I’m so not athletic. I also aspire in my heart to be more organized, to be productive, to learn Spanish, to not procrastinate so much. My intentions are great. It probably is actually more so for an idealist like myself, because as idealists, we are very skilled at seeing things the way they should be rather than accepting things the way they are.
There’s a Youtube channel I watch sometimes, and the woman is several things I would like to be. She’s intentional about exercising, she makes good food choices, she goes to bed early and gets up early, she accomplishes a lot… She is an inspiration to other people to make these kinds of changes in their lives as well. For her to live this way, though, comes down to the choices she makes on a daily basis as to how she will live her life. It’s not an effortless thing. She has formed good habits.
There is a quote hanging in the lunchroom at one of the places where I have worked that says,
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your habits.”
It is completely true. I can have the best intentions in the world- whether it comes to praying for revival on Tuesday nights, or running, or being more organized. But when it actually comes down to doing little things that could lead to big things, I fail so often. It’s easier to waste time on social media or watch a movie. I can make excuses: “I’m too tired. It’s too cold outside…” My spirit is willing, yes, but my flesh is weak- so weak. In our spirits, we believe that we will do world-changing things. However, when it comes right down to it: when the conference is over, and we go back to daily life… When our prayer time is finished, and we are confronted with a situation that makes us angry… When the Sunday church service is over and Monday comes…
We were so willing in our hearts in those moments of inspiration and aspiration, but in the daily monotony and busyness and distractions, we don’t do the little things that will eventually enable us to do the big things. We give in to bad habits. There is a verse in Luke that says:
“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” -Luke 16:10 NKJV
Think of Lionel in The Princess Diaries who told the queen, “Your Majesty, I would gladly take a bullet for you.” She replied, “Oh, how brave. Most interns don’t even want to fetch me my tea.”
It’s hard work to break the bad habits. It isn’t easy to establish good habits. But we’ll be better for it. We can’t expect to excel in the big things if we disdain the small things. And there is a Savior who is willing to help our flesh fall into obedience to His Spirit. He understands the struggle. So go forth! Go forth and make the changes!