THE STRUGGLE OF SELF-WILL
We see a lot of conflict today between governmental rights, constitutional rights, civil rights, legal rights, human rights, and individual rights. But we also are aware of the conflict between God’s rights [His Word and Will], and believer’s rights [their wants and wishes]. Bishop François Fénelon saw this in his congregation, and this is what he had to say:
The Spirit of God never inspires us with self-conceit, and far from creating a disturbance, the Spirit always fills the heart with peace. What could be a more certain proof of temptation than to be in a kind of despair, rebelling against everything that God gives you to lead you to Himself? Such rebellion is not natural, but God allows temptation to drive us to such an extremity so that we may more easily recognize that it is temptation.
In the same way, He allows us in the presence of others to fall into specific faults, which are altogether contrary to our excessive sensitivity and discretion, in order to humiliate our desires and choices that we cherish so jealously, He causes the ground under us to give way so that we may not find any conscious support, either in ourselves or in anyone else. Further, He allows us to imagine that our neighbors judge us quite differently than they really do so that our self-conceit may lose any flattering support from that direction.
The remedy is severe, but nothing less is needed to free us from ourselves and storm the defensive walls of our pride. We want to die, but to die without any pain and in full health. We want to be tested, but only while looking on with conscious superiority to the trial. It is a saying of the old lawyers with respect to donations: “You cannot both give and keep. We must give all or nothing when God asks it. If we do not have the courage to share, at least we can let him take it.”
Written over 450 years ago
Vocabulary redacted by Dr. Robert R Seyda