Some women just know how to get what they want. Women are born manipulators. If you don’t believe me, just watch your little girl as she wraps her Daddy around her little finger–you know what I mean! Women don’t have to be taught this. We are born knowing how to get what we want. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9 We women have it refined to an artform. You say, “What? I’m not deceitful!” Well, maybe not. How about just a little bit manipulative? I know I have been guilty of this in my marriage: I wanted a favorable response to some request. So, I made sure the house looked nice, and everything was in order, the kids were duly instructed to play quietly in their rooms and not bother Daddy. Sweetly I met him at the door, looking nice, served him his favorite meal that night, made him happy and comfortable, and after I’d buttered him up, I said, “Oh, Honey?” And, if I didn’t get my way, look out. Not that there’s anything wrong with making your husband or father his favorite meal and making him comfortable. It’s the motive of the heart and our response when our will is thwarted. And it’s a sin of the heart from the day we’re born. It’s easy to see this in our children, when they throw a tantrum (and for their sakes we should train them to submit their will to their parents, which will make it much easier for them to submit to the will of God).
But what happens when you don’t get your way? Do you pout? Shut the door just a little harder than usual? Resist your husband’s warm embrace? The only way to kill the flesh is to starve it to death. You can beat it down, which is somewhat effective, talk to it like a 2-year-old and tell it “No!” But there’s only one way to make the flesh die and be able to live in the Spirit. (“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Romans 8:9 “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Romans 8:13)
We must starve the flesh and feed the spirit. Starving the flesh means we don’t feed it. We not only don’t encourage ourselves to get our will and way, we purposely give others their way and deny ourselves *cheerfully*–we deny ourselves sometimes even when it would not be sinful to have it go our way. “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Philippians 2:4 Deny yourself and take up your cross.
When we manipulate circumstances and people in order to get our way, we are not being like Jesus. Jesus learned obedience by the things that He suffered. (“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Hebrews 5:8-9)
I don’t think that the garden of Gethsemane was the first time He had to die to His will and submit to His Heavenly Father’s. One time we know of for sure, recorded in Luke 2:41-52, was when Jesus was 12. He thought His time had come to start His earthly public ministry, but His parents thought differently. (v. 51 “And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them”) Jesus had to do what His earthly authorities said, even when He thought He knew better. Being both God and man, His flesh had to die, His earthly nature had to submit, even if sometimes, being God, He knew better than they did. We are not God. We often, though, still think we know better. We know just how it should go. I am guilty of this, and it gets me into trouble every time. I assume and presume. In my mind, it is obvious how it will go and what we should do in such and such a situation. I am far down the road in my thoughts and planning, and all of a sudden, “my” plans are changed or thwarted. I would love to say that I always handle this with calm submission. Jesus had to come under His authorities. In little ways, He had to die to His will every day until one day, the ultimate test was faced in the Garden. If Jesus had to die to His flesh, how much more do we. Daily. Not my will, but Thine be done, Lord.
Galatians 5:24 “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Read also Galatians 5:13ff)