When my younger brother, John Paul, was small, he learned to use a hammer. He found Dad's box of nails and proceeded to drive them into the ground. When the nails were all gone, he found the toolbox and continued the job of driving chisels, screw drivers--anything that had a point--into the ground.
Most of these objects Dad never found. Can you imagine the thrill my brother received from doing something that excited him' He must have received great pleasure from seeing those nails and tools disappear. I'm sure he experienced a feeling of satisfaction, and expressed it with, "Look what I did!"
Do we sometimes do the same thing' When we have completed a task, does our pride want someone to see what we have accomplished' Some of us should have learned long ago how useless some pleasures can be, bearing no fruit except for the moment and often costing more than we can afford.
Yet we continue driving nails in the ground, for the thrill of the moment. The next day we may wonder where the nails went and what meaning or profit our activity had. We might ask: Am I better in any way because I indulged myself in a useless activity' Is anyone else better because I enjoyed a few moments of selfishness' Did this make me stronger, better looking, smarter, or wiser' Did it add to my reputation or my bank account' Were my spiritual resources increased or diminished' Was my ability to witness effectively compromised' Because of the way we have lived, we might doubt that God could use us to help some one to know Jesus.
Is your greatest desire to do what God desires' Are you trying each day to keep Jesus' commandments "to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" and "to love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31).
Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. Wow! That is some assignment. You can't do it in your own strength, no matter how hard you try. Listen to what the apostle Paul wrote:
- "What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way,
- but then I 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 I need something more! For I know the law but still can't
- keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my
- best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that 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 . . .
- "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'
- "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. With the
- arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is
- resolved." (Romans 7:14-25| 8:1, TM)