Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
The last part of this verse is very famous, though many people have no real idea where it came from. It was famously used in a test of early translation software. When taken from English to Russian and then back again, it ended up as, “The wine is good but the meat is rotten.” However, only a relatively small number of Christians remember the first part of the verse, which is how we are to respond to our human weaknesses: watch and pray. Many people respond to temptations like the character Alfred Doolittle in My Fair Lady, who sings about having “a little bit of luck” to yield to every temptation that comes his way. He is thoroughly despicable, yet he comes across as a “charming rogue” because he lives as many people secretly would like to. That’s sad, really. The problem is, far too few people actually fear God, or fear the consequences of their sins. If they did, there would be far more “watching and praying.” An interesting note about this verse for Christians is that the Japanese translates “willing” as “on fire.” You really can be on fire for the Lord and still stumble badly, especially if you think your zeal insulates you from temptation. We must not forget our innate weakness, but indeed be alert and stay in constant communication with our Lord, so that He may guide us through the mine field of life.
This has certainly been my experience. At one point I saw no conflict between “being a strong Christian” and being awash in pornography! That was a total disregard of this verse, and was certainly proof that I was deceiving myself. (James 1:22) The song, “Oh Happy Day,” gets it right when it says, “He taught me how to watch and pray, and live rejoicing every day.” I’m still learning, but I’ve come a long way by the grace of God. As a pastor, I’m to shepherd and encourage those who are further back on that path than I am, always remembering that in my own strength I can’t even take care of myself. However, by the grace and power of God I can indeed do everything He asks of me, (Philippians 4:13) for the blessing of many and for His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the thorough medical tests yesterday that indicate that, at least as far as my heart is concerned, I’ve still got quite a few years left to serve You here. Help me remember always that however healthy my physical body might be, I’m still vulnerable to temptations that could seriously derail me. Help me not live in anxiety, but in confident dependence on You, seeking and doing Your will in every situation, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!