Monday, January 30, 2012

I Should, I will, or God Wills?

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
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I have been thinking upon “I should” and “I will.”
“I should”
“I should” is either self-hatred or a way to not feel so bad for saying I won’t. In Self-Hatred should becomes a never ending list of things to condemn yourself. “I should lose weight,” “I should exercise,” “I should spend more time with family.” These are some of my should’s (you can identify your own I am sure). They subtly eat away at the general well-being of the soul. Taking all of our shortcomings, failings, and disappointments in life we can turn them into should.

It is self-hatred because should just eats away and eats away and eats away until the will to do anyting is gone. You become resigned to this death sentence on the soul. This self-condemnation does not change you or what you do. “I should” never leads to any change just greater and longer lists of discouragement.

“I should” is a veiled “I won’t.” You know I should avoid eating that extra helping (as the serving spoon dips into the dish). Saying “I should” when really we mean “I feel bad, but I am going to do it anyway” is deceptive to ourselves and others.

“I Will” 
As I was meditating on “I should” I thought initially the answer was “I will.” However, I realized a veiled pride that exists in the statement “I will.”
Then He told them a parable: “A rich man’s land was very productive. He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.”’ Luke 12:16-19 (HCSB) 
“I will do this” is the height of arrogant thinking. Some might try to convince themselves that it is simply being prepared or wise stewardship, but listen to Jesus’ conclusion.
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared—whose will they be?’
Luke 12:20 (HCSB) 
Consider this as well:
A scribe approached Him and said, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go!” Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”
Matthew 8:19-20 (HCSB) 
Notice “I will” yet would he? Jesus points out to him the cost, that the very place to lay His head took flight from him. Are we prepared to separate ourselves from our “I will” plans? Do we count the cost?
So is there another option other than “I should” and “I will?” 
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are ⌊like⌋ smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.
James 4:13-17 (HCSB) 
I believe this passage addresses the weaknesses of both “I will” and “I should.” The answer in short is “If the Lord wills.” If the Lord wills then it we will be able to complete the task at hand. Notice a couple of things. First this passage again points out the arrogance of “I will.” Second it also the “sin” of saying I should without taking action. I should without action is sin according to James.
Steps to moving from “I should” and “I will” to “If God wills”
  • Recognize the limits of what you can know (really very little) about the future. 
  • Recognize the limits of who you are (a puff of smoke that vanishes). 
  • Remove boasting and arrogance that comes from “I will” attitude. 
  • Repent of the sin of saying “I should” but never taking action. 
  • And in all your ways acknowledge God (Proverbs 3:5-8), that is never make a plan that does not first seek what God is doing and wills for your life. 
  • Then act in faith trusting God for the outcome.
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