I’m thinking about the things I do that hurt others and how I wish I wouldn’t do them. Thankfully, I have come to believe that God doesn’t despise me when I sin. Before I catch myself doing something wrong or even when I am unaware of it, God looks at me with love. So I don’t despise myself either when I act unkindly. But I don’t want to keep doing it.
The apostle Paul shared my dilemma. The Message translation put it this way, “It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope.”
I’m at the end of my rope too. Some difficult things are so easy to do while other seemingly simple things are not. I think I should just be able to do them and am tempted to berate myself. Come on. What’s the matter with you? Is it that hard to resist saying a critical word or stop taking more than your share? The honest answer is: Yes. It is very hard for me. To quote Rich Mullins, “We are not as strong as we think we are.”
Paul asks, “Is there no one who can do anything for me?”
There is, Paul goes on to say: Jesus. Jesus will help me speak kindly and resist temptation. Even before I ask him, he helps me become aware of my sin. He also works behind the scenes to free me from whatever happened in the past that compels me to do wrong.
And he helps me ask for the grace I need to make the hard things easier.
We are frail;
we are fearfully and wonderfully made,
forged in the fires of human passion
choking on the fumes of selfish rage.
And with these, our hells and our heavens,
so few inches apart,
we must be awfully small
and not as strong as we think we are.
Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. —Romans 7:24, 25 (The Message)