For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (Romans 7:14-15)
If your New Year’s Resolutions are already falling apart like my dog’s torn up toys, you are not alone. Many of us form grand aspirations to be better, but then find ourselves struggling even in simple yet pesky, ordinary areas of our lives – like controlling what we say.
Two weeks ago, I noticed that I was saying something foolish, but I kept talking anyway, outwardly seeming confident and cheery, while inwardly cringing at my own words.
Later, I felt regret, but then a few days after that, the same story came tumbling out of my mouth.
Thankfully, it was a story only about me and not gossip about someone else, but still there it was- the thing I wished I had left unsaid was being said again – by me! It sounded just as foolishly prideful the second time around. I was grateful when someone innocently interrupted me and the conversation turned aside to a new topic.
In Romans 7:15, Paul describes this sort of experience: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (NIV)
Aspiring to do lofty, beautiful things is worthwhile, but often we also struggle just to not do bad things- and then we might struggle not to repeat the bad things we’ve already done.
St Paul reminds us that this is a common struggle – a struggle with our fallen nature – that can only be overcome by God who delivers us through Jesus.
Lord, help me to do what is right and not to persist in doing what I know is wrong. Have mercy on me and help me in my struggles.