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The Very Thing I Hate

July 2, 2020

“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15.

Oh, Paul. Did you ever write truer words? Our problem is not usually that we don’t know what’s right. It’s that we refuse to do it, and then spend countless amounts of energy convincing ourselves and anyone who will listen that the wrong thing we did was actually right. Paul sees this in himself. And he sees it in you, too.

I was speaking recently with a colleague who is a seminary professor. She told me her students don’t think too much about sin these days. Sin, they think, is so outdated. So negative. To which my colleague replies, “But it explains so much!”

If you don’t think sin is real, open a window or turn on the news. And then look inside your own heart. We are not what we were made to be. We are sinners. We can have all the best theories and the most progressive principles and the most idealistic worldviews, but until we are freed from our sin, we’ll never do what we want. Our most beautiful ideas will become twisted beyond recognition. Things will only be made worse.

We need to be forgiven. We need Jesus. We need our old hearts of death removed and new hearts – beating with the very love of God – installed in our chests. Only then can we give up the old project of doing (and failing at) what we think is best and replace it by doing the will of God. Only then can we give up what we want and focus instead on what God would have us do for our neighbors’ benefit.

I’m not the person I was created to be. Even (especially!) my best-intended ideas go wrong. Maybe I should stop coming up with ideas. Maybe I should just follow Jesus and be obedient in grace to his righteousness.

We’ve been doing it our way long enough. Look where it’s gotten us. Maybe we should give God’s ways a try?

Be well, friends. You are loved.

Forgiving God, thank you for the gift of grace. Apart from you I would be lost. Just look at what we’ve done to your creation. Yet, for Jesus’ sake, you love us. Save us. Forgive us. Help us to let go of our ideas and follow you in cross-carrying discipleship. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Saint Paul, Bartolomeo Mantagna, 1482 (public domain).

From → COVID-19

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