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. 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.
The struggle is real.
The struggle is never going to go away.
As long as we are sucking wind on this planet, the struggle is real.
This struggle is that of sin. I am sure you have heard it, “sin is sin.” I have, many times. My exact thought -- “I am good, I am not sinful. I don’t do the big ones.” Yeah, well what about the little ones? What are you talking about Sara?
What about listening to that little nudge, and doing what it tells you to do? Not obeying. Living in fear. Doing just enough to barely survive. THOSE are the sins that I struggle with.
When it comes to these sins -- I am a SINNER. I fail daily. Thank God for His grace and mercy.
But when I don’t sin. When I obey, when I stop trying to make it work my way, when I respond in love -- oh my then I give God room to work. Then I give God room to bless others. Then I give God even more reasons to want to bless me - even though He has all the reasons He needs, I am His and He loves me!
Let me explain it the way Jesus would have with a story.
I really don’t like grocery shopping. It is a chore that I just like to ‘get done’.
Well last summer we were on the hunt to replace the kids kitchen. It was too small for both of them to play at the same time. It was falling apart. It was really cheap to begin with. I had looked at a few places but found nothing that I felt was a great deal. I would scan every single garage sale as I passed to see if it was worth stopping and really looking.
Back to the grocery shopping. I was on the way to the store - I decided (God lead me) to take the time to drive to my favorite Aldi rather than the one right up the street. On the way I see this garage sale. I slow down and peek … toys, but nothing big. I keep going.
After I am done shopping I am putting the cart back and I think to myself, I am going to leave my quarter in the cart and bless someone. (This one probably was me, not God.) Then I feel that nudge, that hey you are about to be told to do something from God. “No, you are going to leave 3.” “What? Then I have to go back to the car, get two more quarters, walk back over here … and God there are people coming! I will probably have to talk to one of them! (All of a sudden 4 people were heading toward the carts!)”
Then there is that split second -- are you going to obey or not. Sin or follow directions?
Mentally kicking and screaming I walk to my car, get two more quarters and walk back. I put one in the first cart. I put one in the second. As I am walking away I get the look … the look that registered as “crazy lady what are you doing?” I respond to the look by saying, “Random Acts of Kindness. Have a quarter!” Then I high-tail it out of there.
I get in my car and breathe out … I don’t think I took a full breathe during this whole thing - what was God wanting me to do! I was way out of my comfort zone, but a few seconds later I was back in my car, breathing and safe. Back in my little cocoon of pseudo invisibility. I am heading home, feeling rather good that I obeyed.
As I get up to this yard sale I see it. Front and center, big and calling my name. A KITCHEN! This was the same yard sale that I passed on the way to the store. I stop. I walk straight to that kitchen. “How much?” willing to pay up to 20 … “$5” WHAT?!!?!?!?!?!?! (mentally) I pull that money right out of my pocket and I give her $6.
Moral of the story … I had that nudge … I heard the request … I had a split second to decided obey or sin … I obeyed … God rewarded me.
Do I get ‘rewards’ like that everytime? Of course not. I would guess that if I really looked at it I would see more rewards than I do. Am I more willing to listen to that nudge that says … do this. You bet. God needed me to see that listening and obeying are important! Do I fail at it? EVERY SINGLE DAY! Does God give me chance after chance? Yep. That is why He is such a better parent than I am.
So, Paul lays it out for us. The struggle is real.