I can't remember exactly when Mom shared this with me, but it's been living on my fridge for some time now:
Did you read that and feel as immediately convicted as I did?
I am torn.
Torn between my flesh and my spirit.
Torn between the sinful human that I was and the child of God that I am.
Torn, because one minute I am fiercely loving things, obsessively hoarding things, mindlessly buying things, then the next minute, I am serving people, loving people, or sacrificing for people.
Torn, because my priorities are at war within me.
It's like Paul says in Romans 7:
"What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary. But if I know the law but can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don;t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. 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. 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?"
I don't share the list above to give you another set of "rules" which you must keep track of and obey in order to be a Christian.
As I once read, "Being a Christian isn't about following all the rules, but being overcome by love".
If I am in love with Christ with my whole heart, then my life will reflect His.
I will be consumed with sacrifice, forgiveness, encouragement, love, etc.
But like Paul confesses, I too often let myself slip into selfish desires of my sinful nature.
Good thing there's more to Romans 7:
"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."
Because of Christ's death on the cross, as believers, we have within us the power to overcome sin.
Not with our own strength, but His.
When we relinquish our hearts to Him, we will see our live shift from mimicking the characteristics in the right side of the column, to living out the Christ-like characteristics in the left column.
And folks, there was no hope for that freedom without our Messiah.
But we don't have to be captive to sin any longer!
That's the Good News.
If you are trying to follow Christ and live a life that points others to him, read that left column and see if your actions match up.
If you are like me, the results may be different every day or even every situation.
That's why we press up and in, why we spend time in prayer and in His Word, and why we daily tend to the fire of our romance with Jesus.
It's only through fierce love, His not ours, that we change.
So print this out and put it somewhere you'll see it often.
To me, it's a good gauge of my heart.
Am I loving, sacrificing, encouraging, serving, giving generously?
If not, I've been neglecting my First Love and my soul needs attending to.
Thank you Jesus, for making it possible to live like You.