Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
Martin Luther King, Jr. in Stride Toward Freedom, 1957
I know that good doesn’t live in me—that is, in my body. The desire to do good is inside of me, but I can’t do it. I don’t do the good that I want to do, but I do the evil that I don’t want to do. But if I do the very thing that I don’t want to do, then I’m not the one doing it anymore. Instead, it is sin that lives in me that is doing it.
My three-year-old son’s behavior can turn on a dime. One minute he is loving and joyful, the next he’s angry, screaming, and throwing a tantrum. I keep reminding myself that the tantrum side of him isn’t who he really is. It’s not his fault, nor can he control it. He’s just three and is learning how to handle these emotions and feelings. Over time, he will get a better grip on what is right and wrong, what is nice and what is mean. His desire will have a stronger grip on his emotional responses. For now, we patiently wait and generously love as best as we can.
Paul tells us that in many ways, we’re all like three-year-olds that can’t control our actions. Sin is our ultimate struggle because it’s the one thing we can’t stop doing 100% of the time. But hold on to that desire for faithfulness. God is patient and loves generously as we struggle to do the good we want to do.
Loving God, grow my desire to be faithful to you. And may the desire to follow you overcome the sin that is rooted deep within me. Amen.
It's great to be able to stop
When you've planned a thing that's wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:
I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish.
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there's something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.
from “What Do You Do With the Mad That You Feel?” by Fred M. Rogers, 1968