Don’t you just hate it when the bible is right? Actually, I know a lot of people who somehow manage to always find things in the bible that agree with what they think. I, on the other hand, often find reading the bible to be an enlightening but troublesome experience. It is troublesome because I come away knowing once again that I am a sinner in need of God’s grace. The Good News is that God’s grace is available if we confess our sins and accept that grace.
I think often about what Paul wrote in Romans 7: 19: “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.” Truer words were never written. Let me give one very mundane example. For most of my life I have fought the battle of the bulge. I am like many Americans; I want someone to come up with some pill that will allow me to eat everything I want to eat, when I want to eat it, and still be amazingly healthy. And yes, I want to be very skinny, too.
Show me a diet book that promises that I do not need to change my eating habits except perhaps eat this one magic food and I am all in. Let me hear about this magic workout program that you can do for ten minutes a day and lose fifty pounds in two days and I will sign up. I am not a stupid person. I have read extensively about food and diets and exercise. I know exactly what I need to do. I need to exercise a lot more; I need to eat lots of vegetables and avoid processed foods and sugars; I need to drink lots of water and avoid sodas. But the good that I want to do is not what I do and the evil that I do not want is what I keep doing.
Unfortunately, it is not just in the area of dieting that I am unable to control my baser impulses. Sometimes I am rude or angry or depressed even while I want very much to be the opposite. Perhaps more importantly, there are times when I fail to show love when I have the opportunity.
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ (38) This is the first and greatest commandment. (39) And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” If I want to live as Jesus wants me to live, then I must be loving even when I do not feel lovable or loving. It is enough to know that God loves me.