For I Do Not Do What I Want
It is very comforting to be understood, to have someone say “I get it” or “I understand how you feel.” It allows us to recognize that we are not alone in our condition. The words of the apostle Paul can speak to us in this very way. Paul writes, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Paul summarizes one of the conditions of the human life, namely sin.
Paul grasps what cripples us sometimes. For although we might strive with all our energy to be faithful to the will and purpose of Christ, we often fall short. We get lost in greed and want, and we forget those who truly suffer in poverty. We get lost in the tasks of daily life and we fail to slow down enough to truly do the things that we want to do, or to be the people that we want to be. We get lost in the spirit of competition and we fail to act with grace and love. The apostle Paul compares this condition to captivity. We are held captive to the law of sin that dwells within our body. We simply do what we do not want to do.
Paul writes words that are very familiar to my soul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Thoughts of failure and hopelessness turn to words of praise. This false dichotomy that encompasses the human condition has been transcended by a greater truth, namely Jesus Christ. The good news of Christ must again and again penetrate us in our failure and move us ever closer to the will and purpose of Christ.
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