For I have the desire to do what is good, but not the ability to carry it out.
— Romans 7:18
As the story goes, Victor Hugo wanted to write a great novel. But instead of writing, he puttered in his garden and took long walks. It wasn’t until he asked his servants to hide his clothes so he’d be forced to remain inside that he finished. We know the results of his work as one of the most powerful novels of all time, which was turned into a phenomenally popular musical: Les Miserables.
There’s a war going on inside each of us. It is the battle between what we want to do and what we actually do.
Hoping to win, we make Christ-centered resolutions. We vow to be more generous, live a simpler life, study the Bible and pray. When our good intentions fail, it’s tempting to believe we’ve failed Christ. Does this make us bad Christians?
The Apostle Paul was a mature Christian at the top of his game when he penned his letter to the Romans. He had been a follower of Christ for over 20 years. He prayed, preached and refused to deny his faith. So why would this heroic man confess a constant struggle to do what he knew he should?
Paul knew the first step toward victory required an honest awareness of his weakness. Confessing this weakness to others held him accountable. Believing himself powerless to conquer this struggle on his own forced him to call upon the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8). And finally, Paul trusted the most powerful weapon against resolution failure: he forgave himself because Christ had forgiven him.
We will stumble. We may fall. But we have access to the same weapons as Paul did. We can call upon the power of the Holy Spirit to help us put our destructive addictions, selfishness and pride behind us. No longer do we have to resolve year-after-year to rid ourselves of the very things we hate. We can receive God’s help today.
Today’s One Thing
This year try something different with that list of things you want to change. Admit your weaknesses. Confess them to a trusted friend. Call upon the power of the Holy Spirit. Forgive yourself when you fail.