I’m always doing what I want. You are too. We all do exactly what we want all the time, and if we don’t want to do something, we don’t do it.
“But, but, but… I want to eat better… I want to exercise… I want to read more… I want to get off twitter.”
No. You don’t.
Because if you really wanted to, you would.
This is the truth about everything, sin included. Any sin you’ve ever committed, you wanted to commit. In the moment, you wanted to sin more than you wanted to be obedient… so you sinned. I mean, contrary to what I tell my wife sometimes, I have never accidentally eaten a cupcake.
When I eat a cupcake, I eat it because eating the cupcake seems more valuable to me than being healthy, or not glutting myself. (I just ate half a dozen cupcakes… just HALF a dozen. and it was an accident. ACCIDENT.)
This is the truth for all of our sins, and we can see it play out over and over again in our work. When we are lazy, when we are unfocused, when we cut corners, when we are short tempered with our co-workers. These are all things that we “don’t want to do.” But in the moment we want to. We want to more than we don’t want to, or we wouldn’t.
When we find ourselves failing at work, the first thought many of us have is to try to white knuckle our way into being better workers. “I should just DO BETTER!” we tell ourselves.
When was the last time that actually worked?
Never. And it doesn’t work because in the moment we don’t believe that being disciplined, or working hard, or whatever it is, is better than the alternative. So we do the things that we ultimately “don’t want to do.”
But you did want to do it.
Have you ever had something that you wanted so bad, you could taste it (why is this whole post about food?) One time I was in bed, but I wanted a taco so bad I got up from bed, put on clothes, and talked my wife into driving across town with me to Taco Bell (don’t judge me… your sins are no different than mine… they just have less sour cream.) Let me say that again for effect; I GOT OUT OF BED AND DROVE ACROSS TOWN FOR A TACO.
And then, after eating my taco, I wasn’t satisfied, so I went back for another taco. (I almost wish this was a made up story, but it isn’t. Here’s a tweet from 2012 to prove it.)
In that moment, I made the decision that a taco (or two) from taco bell was better than being healthy. I wanted those tacos.
If I had been training for a marathon and was going to run it the next morning, you can bet I wouldn’t have eaten a taco at 9:03 the night before. I would have wanted to run a better race more than I wanted a taco. I would have done what I wanted to do, just like I did what I wanted to do. But the action would have been different. See, it’s all about what do you want more?
So what’s the point of all this?
Unsurprisingly, Jesus told us this was the case.
When Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” He wasn’t putting some weird guilt trip on us. Jesus was making an observation. He’s observing the fact that, “If you love me – if I’m the most important thing in your life – you won’t be able to help yourself… you’ll keep my commandments.”
Jesus is saying that if you love him. If you truly love him and you can understand what he’s done for you and how much HE loves you. You’ll WANT to keep his commandments. And you will want to every second of every day, because keeping his commandments will look sooooo much better to you than any alternative.
And therein lies the problem and the solution. You doing the things you “don’t want to do” or not doing the things you want to do. It’s a simple “want to” problem. It’s an affection problem. You don’t want to, because your affections are in the wrong place.
So today when you are tempted to procrastinate, or be short with a coworker, or be disappointed in your job title – the answer is not to mentally flog yourself, or feel terrible about yourself. The answer is to think about what Jesus has done for you.
The Gospel is a great motivator, but not because you feel guilty. The Gospel is a great motivator because if your heart is full of love for God, it won’t have room to love anything else.
Today you only need to work harder at one thing, and this is going to sound really corny, and I’m sorry for that, but today you only need to work harder at loving Jesus. If you get that, everything else will fall in to place.
If you love Jesus more, you will work harder and more diligently at your job. If you love Jesus more, you will be more patient and kind with your coworkers. If you love Jesus more, you will focus more clearly on the most important task. If you love Jesus more, you’ll do exactly what you want to do.