Will You Drink of the Cup?
I can't tell you the number of times that I have prayed to God seeking to know what His will was for my life. How many times I have said, "I'll go where You want me to go, I'll do what You want me to do, I'll do anything, Father, anything! I just want to be in Your will. I'll lay it all down for You. I just want to serve You more than anything else; no matter what it takes." Does that sound familiar? I know I'm not the only one who has prayed this kind of prayer. What child of God doesn't want to know His will for their life. When you come to God and give your heart and life over to Him, there is a longing and desire that comes into your heart that wants to do His will. You can't seem to help yourself, you want to do whatever you can to serve Him. You want to get out there and do His work. You want to know what He has called you to do.
When we sincerely want to know His will for our lives, He'll show us. God has a plan and purpose for your life. He didn't just save you to keep you from going to hell. He didn't save you so you could go warm a pew and help fill empty seats in church. He saved you for service. He has a job for you to do in helping to build His kingdom. He has called you to be His witness (Acts 1:8), to do good works so that others may see them and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:14,15), and to go into the harvest field and reap the harvest (Matthew 9:38).
How many of you, after praying the prayers that we talked about, has God spoken to and told you what He wanted you to do? Once He told you His plan for you, and you realized it wasn't what you thought it was going to be, how did you feel? Now your prayer goes from, "Lord, I'll do anything and go anywhere You want", to, "I'll do anything, Lord, just 'please' don't ask me to do that." Or, "Lord, when I meant anywhere, I wasn't talking about my neighborhood. Please don't send me there." Maybe He has called you into the mission field but you're hesitating to go. Wonder why we are like that? We pray, even beg, to be used by God, then when He says, "OK, this is what I want you to do", we begin to shrink back in fear, act like we didn't hear Him, or beg Him to change His mind and let us do something else instead.
As I was pondering this in my own life, after God had spoken to me about something that He wanted me to do, I came to a conclusion about why we aren't always as eager to do what He says as we think we are. When God spoke to me about what He was calling me to do, I couldn't believe that I had to think about it for a while. I found it was hard to immediately say, yes. I thought to myself, why is it so hard to surrender to this call when I have prayed and prayed for Him to use me and show me what His will is for my life. I thought I wanted His will more than anything else, yet when faced with it, the decision wasn't as easy as I thought it was going to be. Why is that? Why are we so willing for it until it comes our way? In my case, the thing that He called me to do has a price behind it that is greater than I thought I could give. He tells us in His word to count the cost...I was. It really took some soul searching on my part. See, the Bible also tells us that it's better not to make a vow to God then to make one and not pay it. (Ecclesiastes 5:5) In other words, don't tell Him you'll do it, then don't do it. So, the question is, "Why is it so hard to say yes to His will when we have prayed for it?" The conclusion that I came to was this...the problem is in the cup; not the call.
With every call there is a cup to drink (a price to pay). "Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, 'What wilt thou?' She saith unto him, 'Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.' But Jesus answered and said, 'Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?' They say unto him, 'We are able.' And he saith unto them, 'Ye shall drink indeed of my cup...'" (Matthew 20:22-23) What was this cup that Jesus was talking about in reply to their request? They just wanted to have a position in His kingdom, a simple "all right" would have been sufficient, but He started talking about them having to drink from a cup; the same cup that He will drink from.
When Jesus came to earth, He came to do the will of the Father. While He walked on earth He showed the people a true picture of Who the Father was, performed miracles, healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out devils, preached good tidings to the poor and showed the love of God. But His purpose, the whole reason why He came, was to give His life at Calvary to redeem mankind from their sins. Everything else was a testimony to Who He was- that He was the Messiah. "The woman saith unto him, 'I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things." (John 4:25) "Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, 'Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?' Jesus answered and said unto them, 'Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.'" (Matthew 11:2-5) "Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake." (John 14:11)
When it was time to fulfill God's plan for His life, we see Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. "And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed saying, 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matthew 26:39) Here's that cup again. What does the cup mean? It means the same thing for us that it meant for Jesus, only we aren't called to take upon the sins of the world, we aren't the Messiah and Savior of the world. "Are ye able to drink of the same cup that I shall drink of?" One thing the cup represents is obedience. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus...he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:5,8) When God calls you to do a task, you will always be faced with the choice of obedience or disobedience. Usually we are willing to be obedient as long as it is something we want to do; when it's not...that's a different story. Will you drink from the cup of obedience? Or will you say, "I don't want to do that. Ask me to do something else", and live in disobedience? "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice." (1 Samuel 15:22)
It is also a cup of love. What if God tells you that His will for your life is to go to China and be a missionary; what will your answer be to Him then? Will it be, "Yes, Lord, I'll gladly go...here am I, send me." Or will it be, "Lord, you know I can't do that. I can't leave my family and friends. Why don't you let me be a witness here in my own home town; you know they need evangelizing too." "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:37) His will shows us where our true love and devotion lies. Will you drink the cup out of love for God? Or do you love others more, so you refuse to drink it? Jesus was compelled by love to take up the cup and "drink" the will of the Father.
The cup is a cup of sacrifice and self denial. "And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, 'Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest'. And Jesus saith unto him, 'The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head'." (Matthew 9:19) Are you really willing to give up whatever you have to in order to follow the Lord's plan for your life? "Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come take up the cross and follow me." (Mark 10:21) "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it." (Mark 8:34,35) This is where are original prayer has a tendency to change. "I'll do anything, Lord...just as long as you don't ask me to give up anything in the process." We want His will and ours both at the same time. You can't serve two masters. You can't serve God and your flesh at the same time. You're flesh has to be denied or it will try to rule and remove God out of the picture. Jesus took up His cross and literally died on it. He died to His own will..."Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matthew 26:39) In order to follow God's will, we are going to have to die on ours too. When we think about the price of denying ourselves and dying to our own will, we begin to have second thoughts about whether we really want His will or not. That's why I said earlier, "It's the cup that we have the problem with." It would be so easy to say, "Yes" all the time if there wasn't a price that was involved. And to be honest, we don't always want to pay the price. Often God's plans are different from our plans. In order to fulfill His plan, it may involve giving up your own personal dreams and ambitions. It may mean a change in career, you may have to move, you may be called upon to go in an opposite direction than you were headed. Many times it involves giving up those things that you have held on to for security and moving out of your comfort zone. This is were flesh begins to draw back. It doesn't want to be uncomfortable in the least. God may send you out among a people to witness to that you feel terribly uncomfortable around. He may take you out from your familiar surroundings and place you in a whole new situation. You may have to walk down a path that you have never been down before.
The cup is also a cup of surrender and submission. "And he saith unto them, 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him." (Matthew 4:19,22) When you come to Christ, He becomes the Lord and Ruler of your life. This means that He does the leading and you doing the following. "Follow me." It's God's call. That means He tells you what to do. This means you give up your rights to Him. "Ye are not your own." (1 Cor. 6:19) "Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet." (John 13:13,14) Sometimes we don't want to drink of the cup because what He has called us to do is something that we may not aspire to. It may not be glamorous. It may be menial or we feel it is degrading and humiliating. This is where pride gets in the way. Pride will not humble itself to do anything that it thinks is beneath it. The cup of submission says, "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, 'The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him'." (John 13:14-16) Pride will keep us from drinking the cup of submission.
There's also the cup of rejection. "He is despised and rejected of men...He was despised, and we esteemed him not." (Isaiah 53:3) Jesus knew that if He drank from the cup that His Father had given Him, He would be rejected by men. We don't mind doing the will of the Lord as long as it won't ruffle any feathers and everybody will still like us. We want man's applaud and approval. We want everyone to like us. We want to be popular and spoken highly of. That just isn't the case when you follow God's plan for your life. Not everyone is going to like you, they are not all going to be happy about what you have to say, many will not want to hear you. They may even kick you out of their clubs and stop inviting you to certain social functions. "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake." (Matthew 10:22) "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake." (Matthew 5:11) Rejection is not easy. We all have a deep need to be affirmed by others and rejection won't give you that affirmation. Jesus went ahead and drank of the cup of rejection knowing that though He would be rejected by some, His Father would give Him His approval. "This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17)
The cup that I feel like we have the most trouble with is the cup of suffering. No one likes to suffer. I don't know anyone who gets up in the morning and says, "Praise God for this beautiful day. Boy, I hope I have to suffer a lot today." I've never heard anyone pray, "Please, God, send as much suffering my way today as possible." We are prone to avoid suffering any way we can. Personally, I don't like to suffer. Back to our prayer, "Lord, use me. Here am I, send me", we don't really mean it like it sounds, we forgot to tag on the rest of the prayer that says, "Use me, Lord, provided it doesn't come with any suffering." There is no way around suffering if you truly want the will of God for your life. Jesus suffered in doing the Father's will; we will too. "That Christ should suffer." (Acts 3:18;26:23) "He was aquainted with grief, He was stricken, smitten of God, afflicted, and oppressed." (Isaiah 53:3,7) "The Son of man must suffer many things." (Luke 9:22) He suffered; we'll suffer. "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (2 Timothy 3:12) "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him." (2 Timothy 2:12)
I hope that we now have a clearer understanding about why we don't always readily say yes to the call of God even though deep down in our hearts we really want it. In seeing that it's not necessarily the will of God that we have trouble with, but the cup that goes along with it, it will help us to better be able to deal with the real issues at hand so that we can step into God's divine purpose for our lives. Are you going through what we have talked about today? Has God shown you His plan for your life, but you have struggled to surrender and do it? The thing to do is go to God in prayer and ask Him to show you what the real issue is. Ask Him to show you which cup you are having a hard time drinking. Maybe it's not a love problem, but a submission problem. Perhaps it's the suffering you are running from. Whatever it is, God will help you past it. Remember, Jesus had to drink the cup and He said we would drink of the same cup that He drank of. If He drank it, He proved that we could too. God's grace was there for Jesus; so was His strength. Jesus won the victory over the cup. Once He did, the will wasn't even an issue; it came easily. Ask God to help you drink of the cup that you have to drink of so that the will of God may be done in your life. "If it be possible let this cup...nevertheless not my will but thine."