In Romans 7, in a passage of scripture that you might be forgiven for thinking was a tongue twister, the Apostle Paul talks about his decisions and habits…
I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
Even Paul struggled with sinful habits and wrong decisions and yet he is widely regarded as the foremost Christian of all time. How could this be?
Well, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God but thank God! We have an advocate through Jesus Christ who has paid for our sin allowing us to repent, which results in forgiveness and allows us to get back on track in our relationship with God.
But what about the type of person we become? How did Paul, despite his mixed decisions, become the great leader, Apostle and man of God?
Because in the main, he kept making the right decisions from putting God first every day, to praising God in prison, to refusing to renounce Christ despite being flogged and ultimately dying for his faith.
You see, Paul wanted to be like Christ more than anything else and it this desire that ultimately drove his daily decisions. It would have been easy for Paul to look at his past as a persecutor and murderer of Christians and think, “When will I ever be like Christ? I’m so far off.”
Yet Paul became the man he was in likeness to Christ because of the sum of the small daily decisions to follow Christ. We need to picture who it is we would like to be – a good Father, Mother, great teacher, colleague, disciple – whatever or whoever ever we want to be or be like, we need to allow that to drive our small daily decisions.
Whoever you are today or however you see yourself is not a result of what you have done today or yesterday, you did not become you overnight, but through the result of the many small decisions, both good and bad that led you to who you are today. If we desire to change, we can achieve it through being mindful of the small daily decisions that will ultimately shape us.
For me, I too want to be like Jesus and even though it seems a lofty goal and a long way off, the small decisions that I make every day to be like him will add up to make me more like him.
Jesus always took time to spend with his Father, he was always kind, he loved everyone, even those who cursed him, he was patient and he sacrificed his life for others.
This may well be the toughest of all acts to follow but if it is who I want to be like then I must allow that desire to drive my decisions, one small choice at a time.
The good news is that whoever it is that we want to be or whatever it is that we would like to become, we are not alone. In all of Paul’s struggles with habits and decisions he had this to say about the answer -
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
While we must make decisions and choices if we want to change or emulate someone, if we want lasting success in this, we must partner with Christ through his Spirit within us.
Many of us have recently had time to reflect on the way we live our lives and the type of people that we are. Think about the changes you want to make or the type of person you want to be and ask the Holy Spirit daily in prayer to help you with your decisions. It will be the faithful, small, daily decisions that will add up to make the big changes that you want to see.
Jesus waited 30 years to begin his 3-year ministry and the bible says this about his growth
“And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:40, 52)
Jesus spent 30 years making faithful decisions to pray, do the right thing, learning, respecting and growing. If you are thinking that change is a long journey, know that you are the sum of all your decisions and that change is coming.