(almost) Every morning I send a devotion out via e-mail* to 12 people. This morning the text was Romans 7:7-25, this wasn’t the first time I was reading this text. A few months ago a friend was helping me study the law & this text came up. At the time we focussed on the law, what Paul means when he says we’re free from it, etc. because that’s what the text is about, isn’t it? Well, this morning I found something else.
There is a familiar desperation in Paul’s letter to the Romans, one I (& many Christians, I’m sure) know to well.
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
– v15 – 19 (NKJV)
a.k.a “WHY CAN’T I GET THIS RIGHT?!” We try so hard to show God we love Him, we try to do right because we know what’s right and as Paul says, sin finds its opportunity in this through temptation & the strength of our flesh overpowers. Then we’re back at square one like “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (v24) This is where I’m supposed to follow Paul’s thought & be like “Thank God for Christ, He has delivered us, we can do it with His strength” – and yes, that’s all true but I want to introduce something else.
Side: My shuffle just put on Lauryn Hill’s Conquering Lion & I find it so appropriate. Jesus in my iTunes y’all. lol
In chapter 5, we’re (kind of) introduced to grace as a gift from Christ. You see when Christ basically told death “No.” He simultaneously told us “Yes” as in, “Yes, I love you”, “Yes, you have life”, “Yes, you have another chance”. When we sin & fall into the “Oh, wretched man…” rhetoric we do things that are very un-Christ-like. We begin to condemn and chastise, and not in a loving way. What Paul did was note that he was wretched but Christ saved/s. What we do is note that we’re wretched and then question why on earth Christ would want us anyway. The joys of guilt, ey? We continue descending down this slope not realising that this is taking us further from God than we should be.
The command is to love your neighbour as you love yourself, but how can I love my neighbour when he sins knowing that when I sin, I don’t love myself? I don’t extend grace or mercy to myself, I spend ages dwelling on what I’ve done, I take ages to forgive myself… How do I then extend grace to the neighbour that’s done me wrong? How do I easily forgive? This morning it dawned on me that the longer it takes for me to forgive myself the longer I’m dwelling in sin. I mean how can I truly ask for forgiveness & repentance when I’m holding on to a list of my sins in my heart?
We need to reach a point we’re we can forgive ourselves (& in turn, others) with the ease Christ’s forgives us, and that’s going to be hard. In the words of Lauryn Hill “Everyday’s another chance, what a merciful, merciful, merciful God.” We need to be praying for God’s mercy in our hearts & remember that everyday is another chance.
1* – If you want to be added to the devotional list, hit me up: email@example.com