Most of the times that I find myself lacking, I ask, “Why am I not ______?” I ask it as though I expect that “normal”, “good”, “healthy” people are ______ by nature, but, for some reason, I am not.
I search for an answer. I read books. I talk to counselors. I ponder my childhood. I analyze my personality.
On and on I go. Sometimes I come up with some possible factors that may have contributed to my not being _______. But I am learning that factors are not underlying, definitive reasons.
The truth is that whatever I am lacking comes down to one single reason each and every time. I am broken. I was born broken.
Psalm 51:5 says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”
By definition, my human nature lacks good and is full of bad.
One author puts it this way, “We are not sinners because we engage in sin; we sin because we are sinners, rebellious and sinful from birth” (Tan & Gregg).
In other words, sin is what we do. It’s our m.o. We can’t not sin.
With that in mind, I should not be at all surprised when I find myself lacking in an area. Rather, my deficits should simply be a reminder of how much I need the Lord to enable me supernaturally to act right.
Titus 2 confirms that, left to our own devices, we have no idea how to “be worthy of respect, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in endurance…” (Titus 2:2). We have to be taught these things. Women have to be trained “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands” (Titus 2:4-5).
Trained to love my husband and children?! Of all the things on that list, shouldn’t loving my own adorable flesh and blood come naturally?
Let me just free me up and say, “NO!” I am naturally SELFISH, not naturally LOVING. And I am not alone! All of you are naturally selfish too! That is glorious news, isn’t it? I breathe a huge sigh of relief to know that, while it’s true that I am lacking a patient, loving demeanor, it is also true that every other person on the planet also naturally lacks that!
Except for the person who does not live according to his nature.
It is possible, by the very power of Jesus Christ, and only by that power, for you and I to STOP living according to our selfish, sinful human nature and to START living “in accordance with the Spirit” (Romans 8:5).
And just what is that supposed to mean?
Galatians 5:22 tells us that those who live by the Spirit are characterized by “love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
Can we live this way on our own? No.
Can we resolve to live this way? Not for very long.
Can we tell God we want to live this way all the time, but we can’t do it without His supernatural enabling? Sure, but He already knows.
Can we ask Him to help us? Yes.
Can we be sure He will help us? 1 John 5:14-15 tells us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.”
Desiring to stop living according to our sin nature and to start living according to the Spirit is desiring God’s will for ourselves. He will hear us. He will help us. We just have to ask.