For I Do Not Do the Good I Want to Do
By: Maggie Meadows Cooper
"I be'd a little sweet, and I be'd a little ugly!" my toddler proudly proclaimed in reply to my question about how she acted at her friend’s house. I gave her that mommy, slanted-head, squinty-eye look as if to say, "What did you do???" and waited, but there was no further explanation. And to be honest, I didn't push the issue because I felt like I had "be'd a little sweet and a little ugly" lately too.
Isn't it frustrating how we can want to do the right thing with our whole hearts: pray, read the Word, and surround ourselves with uplifting people...and still fall miserably short of God's best for us? We can plan to be kind, speak life, and seek God's will above our own...and then allow our flesh to take over? It happens to me more than I'd like to admit.
Using my words in a way that lifts up and helps others is especially important to me. I intentionally try to think before I speak, not only about my words, but my tone as well. In spite of that, a few days ago, a friend shared that I had said something that was taken in a negative, possibly hurtful way, and it hurt my heart so badly. That is the last thing I would ever want. I appreciated her honesty in sharing with me, but the disappointment in myself has stayed with me.
It made me think of Paul in Romans 7:15-20:
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it."
How about that for a tongue twister? I first remember reading this in high school, highlighting it bright orange in my Student Bible, and reading it over and over. I thought about decisions I had made that were not in line with God's best for me and decided I would stop. But sure enough, I would find myself right back in the same boat and reading those verses again. I thought, well maybe I'll do better in college. Then, well maybe I'll do better once I'm a true adult. Then, well maybe once I'm a mom... you get the picture.
Y'all, that maybe has not come. I still find myself wanting to do what the Lord would have me do... and choosing to do what I want instead. I still plan to use my words to lift up, and instead, sometimes say things that can tear down. Now, I have made progress in the 20+ years since high school as I've grown in the Lord, but I'm still nowhere near where I'd like to be. And I have a feeling that I'm not alone in this boat.
So, if you struggle like I do, what can we do? Well, thank God those verses were not the end of that passage! Paul goes on to say this in verses 24-25:
"Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."
Jesus. He is the answer. Because of Him, we can have hope. Because of Him, we can have forgiveness. Because of Him, we can apologize and have another chance to make things right. We have to choose Him.
And once we do, Romans 8:1 boldly proclaims:
"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus."
Because of Him, we can live life without fear of condemnation. We can mess up and then accept the grace and mercy that Jesus offers because of His sacrifice on the cross.
My heart is to be His and shine His light every second of every day. But I know that is highly unlikely. Not for any lack of desiring to please Him, but because I am human. If I did do everything perfectly all the time, I wouldn't see my need for Him. And y'all, I NEED HIM.
So ladies, here's where I am today. I am hating the fact that I might have hurt someone's feelings. But I am rejoicing in the fact that in my weakness, I see my need for my Jesus. I am thankful that I have another chance to start fresh. And you can too.
Sometimes we may be a little sweet...and sometimes we may be a little ugly. But thank goodness, Jesus is always the same. And His arms are always open.
Maggie Meadows Cooper is a wife, mom, educator, author, and blogger with a longing for women to grow a heart for Jesus and others. She is the author of the children’s book “Bumper” and blogs at The Little Moments about what the Lord is teaching her through her children and everyday life. She contributes to Blogs by Christian Women, Devotional Diva, She Disciples, and Connecting Ministries. An educator with a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from Auburn University (War Eagle!), she has twenty years experience working with young children. She loves all things chocolate, real Coca-Cola, and lives with her husband, three children, and two rambunctious dogs in Opelika, Alabama.
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