The spirit is willing, but the flesh
“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
There are few of us who cannot relate to the disciples when Jesus asked them to pray while He was in agony over the events about to unfold for Him. They knew that He was troubled, they knew that they loved Him and they really wanted to be there for Him in this difficult time. They were not callous or uncaring, quite the contrary. They wanted to pray and be strong in that moment but their flesh weighed them down.
It happens to all of us at one time or another. With the best of intentions we decide to pursue a course of life that is always pleasing to God and a blessing to others. We desire to pray consistently and intercede for those in need. We want to be generous with our time and our resources to be a blessing and be a witness to others.
But on the way to those goals, things can happen. We can get distracted. We get tired. We lose our zeal and our noble goals get sidelined while we wrestle with the cares of this world or the deceitfulness of riches or the lust of other things entering in that choke the Word and shake our faith so that we stumble and sometimes fall.
“And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” Mark 4:18-19
In our hearts we would all like to be like these.
“And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.” Mark 4:20
And we can be. In fact, we are more fruitful in many things, more times than we think. It is only in our unfruitful times that we tend to lose heart and get discouraged. And of course it’s in those times that the enemy presses on us to magnify our short-comings and missteps to add to our sense of failure to live up to our goals.
Now what do we do in such times?
First, we remember that God knows our nature. He knows the character of our humanity and He understands the weaknesses of our flesh. And best of all, He doesn’t hold that against us. We have a Father who loves us.
“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” Psalm 103:13
Then, we need to pray and seek the Lord’s strength and wisdom and let His joy renew our hearts. When we are down or feeling a sense of failure we need a medicine to counter that sickness. That medicine is a merry heart.
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
Maintaining a sense of humor and not taking ourselves too seriously is the best antidote to the “downs” that come to steal our joy.
Next, we need to remind ourselves of what God says about us; that we are loved, that our righteousness is from Him, that we are being transformed into the image of Christ, that we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ our Lord, that we are new creations in Christ Jesus, that the old things have passed away and all things concerning us are new and those things are of God, that we are accepted in the beloved, that we are now sons and daughters of God, that we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, that we have the mind of Christ and we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, that no weapon formed against us shall prosper, that we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, that He will never leave us or forsake us.
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
“And David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God—my God—will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you…” 1 Chronicles 28:20
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6
Finally, we get up and get back in the race. The flesh may be weak but our spirits joined in union with the Holy Spirit are an unbeatable force. He empowers us, He refreshes us, He renews us so that we can rise up with wings as eagles, we can run and not be weary, we can walk and not faint.