Even Paul’s Brain Didn’t Always Listen
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. Romans 7:21 (The Message)
We were looking around a sports store after a long day of errands. Soleil, our five year old, was playing with an elliptical machine.
“Stop touching that,” Eric told her. She stopped, but as soon as we turned our heads, she was on it again. I held her hand and had her stand by me so she could only look longingly at the machine.
When we went to leave the store, she couldn’t resist playing with it one more time. In the parking lot, after scolding her, Eric said, “Why don’t you tell yourself when you want to do something I’ve told you not to do that your daddy isn’t going to like it? Then you’ll stop.”
“Well I try,” She said, completely anguished. “But my brain doesn’t listen!”
Well, Soleil is not alone. I too, try to tell myself to stop doing things but my brain just doesn’t listen. Like Paul says above, it happens so regularly it’s predictable!
Also like Paul, I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. (verses 22-23)
Just knowing that this beloved apostle who wrote most of the New Testament felt this way gives me hope. Even so, I sometimes stumble in prayer, stuck in my confessions. I tell God I want to stop being so easily irritated or stop thinking unkind thoughts, but I doubt myself even as I say the words.
I can identify with Paul when he cries, I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? (verse 24)
Fortunately for us, he answers his question: The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. (verse 25)
How blessed are we that in place of condemnation, Paul reminds us of our hope in Christ.
So, then. Next time I tell myself to stop and my brain just doesn’t listen, instead of dwelling on my stupidity, I will return to the cross and thank God Jesus set things right.