In Romans 7:14-25, Paul writes of his struggle against sin:
14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Does this repetitive monologue resound with any of your hearts? I am not sure about you, but every day I find myself struggling to be like Christ. Lately the struggles that I am facing are bitterness and envy. As friends, coworkers, acquaintances and strangers announce pregnancies and births, bitterness and envy seem to gain more and more power in my heart. I keep asking myself why I let these sins do this to my soul, but I cannot find the answer.
I relate to Paul in this message he is writing because i, too, cannot seem to control these sins. This then causes my head and heart to do a dance of “This is not what you should be feeling. – This is how I feel! I can’t control it!”
So how are we, as Christ-followers, supposed to overcome these sins?
I don’t know, but here is my “how to” plan:
- Pray – I am going to pray without ceasing with “hands high, and heart abandoned.” The Scripture tells us repeatedly (Mark 11:24, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 John 3:22, Jeremiah 29:11-15…on and on) that if we seek God’s help through prayer, He will most certainly grant it. So that is what I am going to do. I am going to pray that the Lord grant me a peaceful heart and kindness for others. I am going to ask for Him to erase the bitterness and envy.
- Give Congratulations TO EVERYONE – Sometimes, when I think that someone doesn’t deserve to be pregnant because they don’t “have their life together” or “don’t long for it like I do”, I do not give them well wishes or congratulations. So to help this bitter heart, there will be words of congratulations and praise for God when I speak to new mothers and fathers. Every baby is a miracle and my heart needs to remember this!
- Stop Complaining – Giving congratulations is not enough, though. I want to stop complaining to Josh, my mom, and my best friend every time a new pregnancy or baby is announced. I will instead replace this negative approach with words of praise for the miracle of life!
The key here is prayer and positive thinking. After all, I still want our nest to be joyful in all situations and I think that means I need to weed out bitterness and envy! I would like to end this post with one of my favorite doxologies:
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.