Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Every time I read this passage I remember an experiment that was done in the early days of computer translation between languages. It was at the height of the Cold War, so naturally Russian was the target language. They input, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” and converted to Russian, and then they fed that back into the computer the other direction. What came out was, “The vodka is good, but the meat is rotten.” Algorithms and computing power have both come a long way since then, but computer translation is still a very hit-or-miss business. The Japanese here might be a little harder to scramble: “Even if the heart is burning, the physical body is weak.” We have all experienced that! We have the best of intentions, but simply don’t follow through. The good news is that God loves us anyway, and He doesn’t give up on us. Peter and John, two of the people specifically addressed here, went on to magnificent ministries, though they had other lapses along the way. We need to remember that, along with Paul’s clear words that “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13) He works on our heart, our intentions, and then He enables us to follow through more and more. Sometimes He enables us to do the right thing even when we didn’t intend to! We aren’t to be satisfied with being weak, but at the same time we aren’t to be constantly accusing ourselves over it. Repentance is a daily activity, but it shouldn’t lead to despair. We’ve got to remember that God is more powerful than our weaknesses, and rest in that assurance.
This certainly applies to me! If I were fully effective in all my desires and intentions, Japan would be an actively Christian nation by now! I am constantly confronted with the reality that I can accomplish nothing good on my own; I am totally dependent on God. That said, my obedience is still required. As Paul said, “It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2) I am never to use my obvious weaknesses as an excuse. I am given tools of various sorts, and various opportunities to use them. I am responsible and accountable for all of that. I couldn’t begin to count up all my failures in that area, because I’m not even aware of all of them! I am never to complain, but remember that God’s grace is just as sufficient for me as it was for Paul. (2 Corinthians 12:9) If I were always strong, God wouldn’t get the glory! I am to keep growing in obedience, so that His purposes may be accomplished in and through me on His schedule, for His glory alone.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for what You are doing in the photo show. Cathy and I are already feeling the strain, and today is just the 3rd day! It was a major blow yesterday to get a call saying that the hotel where we had planned to take a little rest after the show is over will be closed because of COVID. We still aren’t at peace or agreement about what to do instead. Thank You that You know our needs better than we do. Help us indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in You, knowing that Your plans for us are good indeed. Thank You. Praise God!