Monday, July 25, 2011

Are You Wretched, Too?

Romans 7:15-24
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

When I think about Paul, I think about a man who was intelligent, passionate, driven and effective. His life’s work speaks for itself, clearly indicating he never wasted hours on the couch watching sitcoms, or hanging out with friends drinking beer and slinging playful insults. It’s doubtful Paul lost himself in games or the pursuit of his own personal pleasures. I can't say the same.

Paul seemed to be the kind of man who, once taken by the Holy Spirit, lived every moment for the Lord. Living intentionally, purposefully and effectively to spread the Word and help build the Kingdom. His legacy is known only to God, for who can count the vast number of people saved by Paul’s words, either firsthand, secondhand or read in the Book? Surely, they are "like the stars..."

Trying to live to the standard Paul set is nearly as tough as trying to live to the standard Jesus set.

But, unlike Jesus, who lived a perfect and sinless life, Paul was like the rest of us.

“…the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”

How many times have I thought I need to stop being impatient with others? Stop overeating? Stop reacting harshly? I need to make a conscious effort to be happier? Be more appreciative of the blessings I have? How many times have I begged God to make me into the man He designed me to be while a cloud of anger or dismay or despondency roiled around in my mind, affecting my decisions and actions?

Not as many times as I’ve thought “What a wretched man I am!”

Then, I start to kick myself and embrace the idea that I am wretched.

Thankfully, Paul was too.

It’s no secret that Romans might just be my favorite book in the bible. And, that might boil down to this passage. I relate to Paul greatly as I lived a very destructive, disruptive life prior to coming to Christ – as did Paul. Knowing he still struggled, even after maturing in his faith, helps me to put things in perspective.

The maturation ends when the heart stops beating and not a moment before.

And, while it’s uplifting to know Paul had the same struggles, the real ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ moment is the next passage:

Romans 7:25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

No matter how many times I get caught in a dark cloud, I know the Son will always shine through.

To keep that at forefront of every day, I suggest this passage, which serves as a constant reminder of what we all have offered to us:

Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

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