I woke up this morning and admittedly felt rather lackluster about beginning a new week. I believe the rest of the country would refer to this as the common Case of the Mondays. However, when you’re relatively optimistic, waking up like this is startling to say the least. On top of the normal trauma induced by the violent rousing from sleep that is waking up to an alarm clock, it’s nigh unbearable. As I was ambling about the house in a fog rivaling that outside, I remembered yesterday’s sermon at Reston Bible Church.
Today, like every day, represents an important choice. The choice we face is the same each day, but our answer, certainly mine, does not always follow the same path. Being human, we have a distinct capacity for both good and evil, the latter I feel being markedly easier to pursue. However, it is this very decision made consciously each day that defines us. It is the recognition that, each day, this decision is independent of every other decision we’ve made in our lives, but it is just as important if not more so.
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” — Romans 7:15
The words here of Paul sum up our great capacity to achieve evil. I think we can all agree that Paul was one of the greatest Christians to have ever lived, yet he admitted to struggling mightily with his baser nature. The danger here is that it is all too easy to make this decision, especially when we do not intentionally go about its opposite.
I turned on this song as I was driving to work this morning and I think it gives an idea of what choosing to pursue good in this world looks like. It is not an easy choice. There will always be hindrances and obstacles. Most importantly, we can’t do it on our own. I’m sorry, but I can’t do a thing without some ulterior motive tarnishing what looks on the outside to be good. I realize now that only God can work in my heart to produce true, unadulterated goodness (Romans 7:18).
“Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” Romans 7:20–25
There are plenty of examples of good people doing evil, in fact the Bible is filled with them. The great King David, praised as a man after God’s heart, committed adultery, murder and nearly every other sin under the sun. His son, the wise King Solomon, worshipped other gods among other things. The vilified Judas Iscariot, I feel I need to clarify, was a disciple of Jesus and could not therefore have been a purely evil man. Judas made one poor decision that was followed by another of greater consequence and then realized he could not take either back. An evil man does not hang himself in shame after committing evil. Herein lies the crux of the matter.
Today, we stand on the precipice of a great and consequential decision. While it is independent of every previous decision we’ve made, its consequences have eternal impact. Do we accept easy and do what comes most naturally to us? Or, do we rely on God to work in and through us and face together the inevitable hardship of opposing our flesh? Remember God’s grace as you contemplate. Your decision yesterday is as far as the east is from the west. Let’s choose wisely, but the fact is, we need to make a choice.