“By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24–26).
IN ORDER TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT, OUR CONSCIENCE AND OUR WILL SOMETIMES HAVE TO OVERRULE THE DESIRES OF THE MOMENT. According to the text above, Moses had such an experience in deciding to forgo his future as an Egyptian prince. In order to serve a higher good, he let go of the pleasures that were immediately available to him and accepted a difficult task that cost him the rest of his life. Impulse would have said Stay in Egypt! — but principle said Go! Moses chose to be a man of principle.
No matter how much we grow spiritually, we’re still going to have some “hard moments.” The fewer the better, obviously, and the person who commits to a disciplined life will find obedience easier than the one who makes no such commitment. Indeed, when we’ve trained and exercised ourselves in godliness (1 Timothy 4:7,8), we’ll find that God’s commandments are “not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). But there are still going to be times when the right thing and the easy thing are not the same thing. And godliness will choose the right thing, whether difficult or not.
No one could have been more prepared for Gethsemane than Jesus was. Yet it would be an insult to suggest that making the choice He did was an easy experience. The decision was literally an “agony” (Luke 22:39–46). He “offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears,” and He “learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:7,8). Whatever may have been the impulses of His flesh, He chose to base His actions on the principle of love for the Father’s will.
Doing the right thing, based on principle and regardless of circumstance, is the essence of character, integrity, and honor. The ability to make such a choice is an important part of the image of God in which we were created. When we use this gift to make principled choices, rather than impulsive ones, we honor the God whose image we bear and we also please Him.
“A free will is not the liberty to do whatever one likes, but the power of doing whatever one sees ought to be done, even in the very face of otherwise overwhelming impulse. There lies freedom indeed” (George MacDonald).