PURPOSES ACCORDING TO THE FLESH
That is how most of our purposes are conceived. This is the natural way we all take when we are off our guard. In the whole of the study of theology, there is nothing more humiliating than the discovery that the Church, in the person of many of its leading members, has practiced just this kind of plan-making. Our fathers and mothers risked their lives to assert that it was possible that even general councils of the Church might err. When you read the history of these councils, the record of all the sordid bickering, back-biting, place seeking, the toadying, fear and the use of fame, you marvel not the councils sometimes erred but that they ever hit upon the truth. But I am not talking about councils and the obvious machinations of the princes of the Church who wangled ecclesiastical politics to feather their own nests. I am talking about ourselves. How often do we make our plans according to the flesh in the same way that worldly people make theirs? What sort of common sense do we apply? Let me be precise and particular.
Now I do not for a minute expect anyone to have completely gotten rid of all worldly motives. They lie submerged in the depths of our unconscious life (even if not higher up), and they break out when we least expect it. All I want to say at the moment is this— all discussion of God’s guidance is sheer idle chatter if we are consciously harboring worldly motives. If I make up my mind on a certain cause, simply because I like the look of it, and think it will be profitable and pleasing, and then ask God to rubber stamp my decision, then it is no good me pretending that I want guidance, or that I am at all likely to get it.