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Those Juniors, Part 23: Three Judges

by Eric B. Hare

Last week: To have the desired effect on a misbehaving child is not hard. You must work by strategy; build them up, identify with them, and gently correct them. Once this is done, they will be compelled by their own desire to be good.

Some time ago I heard a mother say to her small son, “It’s time for you to run off to bed now, dear.” But the little dear shook his head, pouted his lips, and whined, “No.”

Mother continued, “Now, be a good boy and run off to bed.”

And the little boy said, “No! No!” and stamped his foot.

The mother answered, “You are going to bed, my little son. Now run along.”

But her little son lay down on the floor, kicked his legs, and yelled, “No! No! I don’t want to.”

Blushing with embarrassment, the poor mother apologized, “My little boy has such a strong will power.”

No, he didn’t have a strong will power. That little boy had a very stubborn “won’t power.” They are very, very different. Many people are confused in their understanding of the will power. Some even confuse it with “want” power. But “want” power is not will power.

One day there came to my dispensary an old man who groaned and groaned with the toothache. “Where do you live, uncle?” I asked as I opened the door and let him in.

He named a village ten miles away and added, “I walked all the way this morning because I want to get my tooth pulled out.”

He did have a great deal of want power, didn’t he, to walk ten miles to get a tooth out! So I had him sit in a chair while I got ready to pull his tooth. I had a little silver tray, and on it I placed my syringe and needle, and as uncle saw the needle he said, “Oh! Oh!” Then I put a little lance on the tray and an elevator—sometimes we need them if the roots are hard—and uncle said, “Oh! Oh!” again. Then I selected two pairs of forceps and put them on the tray.

Then when I was all ready, in my white coat with my sleeves rolled up, I said, “All right, uncle, I’m all ready. Open your mouth and let me get to work.”

But he had seen so many things on that tray that he was afraid, and covering his mouth with both his hands, he shook his head and said, “Unh-unh!”

I explained that after the first prick of the needle he wouldn’t feel any more pain and that soon his tooth would be out, but with his hands still tight over his mouth, he continued to shake his head and say, “Unh-unh!”

I thought perhaps he didn’t know I could pull teeth; so I took out a bottle of dried teeth—teeth that I had pulled and put in a bottle to use as an assurer—and I rattled them in front of him as I said, “Don’t be scared! Look at all these teeth! I pulled every one, and not a single one hurt. Now come on, uncle, open your mouth and let me get in there and pull that tooth.”

But he shook his head and said, “Unh-unh!”

I had others try to convince him that it would be all right, but to no avail. He shook his head and said, “Unh-unh!” And, believe it or not, that man who wanted to get his tooth pulled so much that he walked ten miles to the dispensary for that very purpose, walked ten miles home again with that aching tooth still in his head. Why? Because he was not willing to let me pull that tooth.

Oh, yes, there’s a big difference between will power and won’t power and want power. It must be exceedingly important for us to understand it, for our eternal salvation depends on our being willing. “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”1

What is the will? How can it be developed? Is there danger that we might crush the will while trying to train our children? This is to be the interesting subject of this article.

Of the many possible definitions of the will, here is a paragraph that contains as good a definition as I have ever seen:

“Pure religion has to do with the will. The will is the governing power in the nature of man, bringing all the other faculties under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the deciding power, which works in the children of men unto obedience to God, or unto disobedience.”2

How easy this is to understand; the will is not want power but a deciding power. To have a decision implies a council, and judges, and we do not have to look very long before we find that the council chamber is the mind and in that chamber are found three judges: (1) the voice of reason, (2) the voice of the heart’s ideals, (3) the voice of conscience.

The Voice of Reason
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord.”3 God has placed within our minds this power of reasoning that leads to choice. “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”4 With a voice cold and factual, reason argues pro and con, telling what is good for us and what is bad for us. Reason pays no attention to whether we like it or not, or whether we want it or not—coldly, clearly, it points out the advantages and the disadvantages.

The Voice of the Heart’s Ideal
“With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”5 Within our minds is a picture of the man we want to be—our heart’s ideal. Unfortunately, few parents deliberately set before themselves or their children this picture of the heart’s ideal and the principal characteristics they desire them to possess. However, sooner or later the ideal begins to develop, and it can be high or low, noble or unworthy, as the environment and training shall decide. The voice of the heart’s ideal is warm and passionate, and sometimes conflicts with reason. Is it any wonder that Solomon prayed, “Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart”?6

The Voice of Conscience
Isaiah says, “Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”7 Elijah speaks of a “still small voice.”8 Whether we hear this voice behind us or in our hearts, we recognize it as the voice of conscience, which is the faculty whereby we know the will of God. When trained by obedience, the voice of conscience speaks clearly, saying whether it is right or wrong. Caring nothing for the voice of the heart’s ideal, sometimes at conflict with reason, the voice of conscience tells whether God approves or disapproves of the action under consideration.

The decision of those three judges is the will. If a low heart’s ideal outweighs the voice of reason and the voice of conscience, our will works within us to disobedience. But if the heart’s ideal is elevated, in harmony with God and with reason, it works within us to obedience.

Normally these judges work well and speak their decisions quickly, elevating and ennobling the person. If the voices are weak, they produce an unworthy person. If they are silent, the person is an idiot.

It is not necessary to discuss the difference between instincts and emotions, inborn or acquired. In harmony with all wants, needs, and temptations, they arise in the cells and organs of the body and travel along the pathway of desire, and in order for the will concerning that special desire to be expressed, it must be ushered into the council chamber of the mind by the porter of self-control.

When I was a little boy, my mother used to tell me to count ten before hitting anyone who had hit me at school. Now there was no magic or charm about counting ten. It simply gave time for reason to say it might have been an accident and that hitting back wouldn’t make matters any better; for the voice of the heart’s ideal to say that I didn’t want to be a fighter; and for conscience to say he that “hateth his brother is a murderer.”9

We cannot overemphasize the importance of self-control, for this factor, with its ability to usher desire into the council chamber of the mind, often makes the difference between life and death, as we shall see.

(Next week: “Arbiter of Destiny.”)

1. Rev. 22:17.
2. Messages to Young People, p. 151.
3. Isa. 1:18.
4. Deut. 30:19.
5. Rom. 10:10.
6. 1 Kings 3:9.
7. Isa. 30:21.
8. 1 Kings 19:12.
9. 1 John 3:15.

Copyright © 1973 by Eric B. Hare. Used by permission.

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