July 23, 2009
Can't . . . or Won't? Part Two
by Charles R. Swindoll
If you haven't read yesterday's reading, I'd like to ask you to do that. It's crucial that you understand that God has given Christians an extra inner reservoir of power that is more than a match for the stuff life throws at us. In the verses we studied yesterday (Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Ephesians 3:14, 16; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 Corinthians 10:13), it's called several things: strength, power, divine nature, ability.
So, if we have this miraculous ability, why do we struggle so?
Let's get specific. It often boils down to the choice of two common words in our vocabulary. Little words, but, oh, so different! Can't and won't. Christians need to be very careful which one they choose. It seems that we prefer to use can't.
"I just can't get along with my wife."
"My husband and I can't communicate."
"I can't discipline the kids like I should."
"I just can't give up the affair I'm having."
"I can't stop overeating."
"I can't find the time to pray."
"I can't quit gossiping."
No, any Christian who takes seriously those five passages we looked at (there are dozens more) will have to confess the word really should be won't. Why? Because we have been given the power, the ability to overcome. Literally! And therein lies hope in hoisting anchors that would otherwise hold us in the muck and mire of blame and self-pity.
One of the best books I've encountered on overcoming depression is a splendid work by two physicians, Minirth and Meier. The volume is appropriately entitled Happiness Is a Choice. These men agree that:
As psychiatrists we cringe whenever [Christian] patients use the word can't. . . .
Any good psychiatrist knows that "I can't" and "I've tried" are merely lame excuses. We insist that our patients be honest with themselves and use language that expresses the reality of the situation. So we have our patients change their can'ts to won'ts. . . .
If an individual changes all his can'ts to won'ts, he stops avoiding the truth, quits deceiving himself, and starts living in reality. . . .
"I just won't get along with my wife."
"My husband and I won't communicate."
"I won't discipline the kids like I should."
"I just won't give up the affair I'm having."
"I won't stop overeating."
"I won't find the time to pray"
"I won't quit gossiping."
Non-Christians have every right and reason to use can't, because they really can't! They are victims, trapped and bound like slaves in a fierce and endless struggle. Without Christ and His power, they lack what it takes to change permanently. They don't because they can't! It is a fact . . . a valid excuse.
But people like us? Hey, let's face it; we don't because we won't . . . we disobey because we want to, not because we have to . . . because we choose to, not because we're forced to. The sooner we are willing to own up realistically to our responsibility and stop playing the blame game at pity parties for ourselves, the more we'll learn and change and the less we'll burn and blame.
I wish I could find a less offensive way to communicate all this, but I just can't. Oops!
If there's a "won't" in your life that you've been calling a "can't," talk it over now with God.
Excerpted from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, Copyright © 1985, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.