Yearning to Be a Better Person

David Brooks said that he wrote The Road to Character to save his own soul. In looking at his own life, he realized he was too concerned with “resume virtues” and not enough with “eulogy virtues.” In telling the stories of people like Dwight D. Eisenhower and Frances Perkins, he hoped to learn how they developed character after descending into “the valley of humility.” The people he chose to write about were interesting, but they didn’t inspire me that much, perhaps because we each have our own passions and our own heroes. I found myself more interested in the idea presented at the beginning of the book – that human beings have two selves – one motivated by ambition and one motivated to seek a higher, moral purpose.
The Two Selves

In the introduction, Brooks explained an idea that he read about in The Lonely Man of Faith – that we each have two conflicting selves. The author of that book, Rabbi Joseph Soloveithchik, described two sides to our natures, which he named Adam I and Adam II. Adam I is the ambitious, achievement-oriented self. He seeks status and wants to be victorious. He follows a utilitarian logic, pursuing self-interest and the rewards we expect to get from our efforts. This self keeps busy building, creating, and producing. This self asks “what’s in it for me?” Adam I nurtures himself my cultivating his strengths and fiercely guarding his self-interests.

In contrast, Adam II, is the moral-seeking self. This side of us is motivated by a desire to love others just as we love ourselves, to do good and to be good. He wants to honor creation and his own potential, which means yielding to a “transcendent truth” and sacrificing the desires of the self to a greater good. Adam II lives by a moral logic that is completely contrary to the Adam I way of thinking. He wants to produce good fruits like kindness, love, and mercy. To nurture himself, he must confront his weaknesses. To fulfill this self, he must forget his own wants and think about himself less. For Adam II, achieving humility is the greatest success; pride is his greatest failure. This self asks “what’s the right thing to do?”

I see these two selves at work in me. I want to achieve my goals and have the things that make me happy. I pursue my own wants and interests. I see the world from my point of view. I think my own thoughts. I make my own choices about right and wrong because I have the will and the freedom to do so. But the other side of me recognizes that I don’t live in isolation. I am not the center of the universe; there are other people on my planet. Other individuals have their own wants and interests, their own ways of thinking and seeing and their own free will to make choices.

It is in my best interest to live in harmony with other people even though their interests compete with my self interests and even when it is not easy for me to yield to the wants of others. So I find a calling in me to look to a higher moral code that is above my self-centered ways. It may be in my selfish interest to lie or cheat to achieve the desires of the Adam I in me. But the Adam II in me sees that these behaviors are not good. Adam II sees that the best moral choices are honesty, fairness, respect for others and what rightfully belongs to them, kindness, patience and self-control.

When we truly desire for Adam II to be the victor in the battle within the self, it is hard to understand why Adam I continues to exert so much power over him. The apostle Paul attempted to explain the struggle for power over the self (from Romans 7). I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 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. Paul recognized the warring sides of his nature – the inner being that delights in God’s law and the sinful nature that is always right there with him.

The Road to Character

I always liked the quote, life is a journey not a destination. It encourages me to savor my everyday experiences instead of worrying too much about where I’m going. It reminds me of the Harry Chapin song, Cat’s in the Cradle. The father was so busy pursuing the goals of Adam I that he missed out on the important things until it was too late. But when it comes to character, it is worth stopping to think about where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.

A road to character is a great metaphor for the process of developing character. It makes me think about bumps and potholes. Life can throw a lot of those your way and if you’re not careful, they can do some damage – damage that points out the need for repairs. On mountain roads, you have to drive slowly because of sharp turns, steep grades, and blinds spots. Other times life goes so smoothly, you can drive on autopilot or maybe take the slower, scenic route. But on the road, you must be prepared for unexpected detours and changes in weather. Nothing focuses you like driving in a blizzard.

Then there’s the issue of getting lost if you don’t know where you’re going. My pastor asked us the other day if we have ever gotten lost while driving and if we had, if we knew why we had gotten lost. He showed us the results of a survey that showed that 45% or so of people said they got lost because of bad directions. Almost the same percentage got lost because they missed a road sign. I’ve gotten lost for both reasons and I’ve gotten lost because I thought I didn’t need directions! I foolishly thought I could figure it once I got there. I found that I had to stop and get my bearings and get the directions I needed to continue on my way.

On the website for The Road to Character, Brooks wrote that he wants to have the “moral adventures” that lead to being a better person. Now, I wouldn’t call the situations that lead to character “adventures.” An adventure sounds like something fun and exciting. I would call the situations that develop character a refining fire that takes rough, impure material and turns it into something precious and beautiful.

Sometimes character develops from adversity, suffering or struggling through something difficult. In retrospect, you can see the benefits of the struggle, just as I learned to be a better driver by driving in less than ideal conditions. Romans 5:3-4 says “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

Growing up poor made me a stronger person. My ambitious Adam I self became determined to overcome and succeed. I learned the value of self-sacrifice and self-discipline. The Adam II side of me learned to not think too highly of myself and to have empathy for others. Most importantly, adversity taught me that I am not defined by external signs of success – what I have or what I accomplish – but by who I am on the inside.

Adversity may lead to character but how we respond to challenges reveal our true character at that point in time. For example, I sometimes respond to frustrations at work with a lack of patience and a desire to vent my anger. But acknowledging and confronting this weakness in me leads me to think about how I might practice better self-control the next time the network crashes on me or someone derails my work plans.

Shifting the Conversation

Besides hoping to become a deeper better person himself, Brooks said that he wrote The Road to Character because he wants to shift our conversation away from the cultural focus on external success. The hope is that we will relearn the vocabulary that past generations used to describe virtues and that we would focus more on “the internal confrontation with weakness that produces good character.” I agree. Many people don’t spend much time nurturing their moral side, confronting the weaknesses of their characters. But facing up to our weaknesses, though painful, produces moral growth – just as pruning a branch produces healthy new growth.

Indirectly at least, we are starting to have this conversation whether we want to or not. We’re talking about the dishonesty of political candidates. We’re using words that were not part of our vernacular before – xenophobia, narcissism, misogyny. We’re seeing an example of Adam I at his worst – pursuing selfish ambition, bragging about wealth and achievements while ignoring or denying weaknesses of character. Today, we’re facing cultural struggles that reveal the moral weaknesses of that culture.

Let’s talk about the kind of people we should yearn to be. Let’s talk about the seven virtues or the nine spiritual fruits – love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Let’s talk about our weaknesses and how we can learn to be better people.

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Here I Am, Lord

Here I am, Lord. It is I, Lord.

I am the woman at the well, a despised Samaritan. You know my secret shame, the mistakes in my past. Yet you, a Jew, spoke to me anyway and asked me for a drink. Day after day, I return to this earthly well for water. You told me about the gift of God – living water. Now I drink from a never-ending spring that leads to eternal life.

Here I am, Lord. It is I, Lord.

I am the woman in the crowd that nearly crushed you. I suffered for years from an affliction no one could see. Bleeding and weak, I touched the edge of your cloak. Your power flowed to my body and I was instantly healed. You knew. I fell at your feet, trembling, as I explained why I touched you. You sent me off in peace. You made me whole.

Here I am, Lord. It is I, Lord.

I am the woman who sits at your feet, eagerly listening to you speak. The worries of the world melt away when I am in your presence. Teacher, show me your ways. Teach me your paths. Other things can wait. You give me all that I need. I hunger and thirst for your righteousness.

Here I am, Lord. It is I, Lord.

You are the true grapevine. I am a branch. You purified me with your love and forgiveness. Your pruned me so I can bear good fruit. Your words remain in me. Your love remains in me. Apart from you, I can do nothing. Apart from you, I am nothing.

Here I am, Lord. It is I, Lord.

You are the shepherd. I am your sheep. I hear your voice. I know you. You lead me beside still waters. You restore my soul. Your rod and your staff comfort me. My cup runs over.

Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.

 

 

Love Will Prevail

Someone posted a 22 minute video of the “Unite the Right” protest in Charlottesville, Virginia. I couldn’t watch more than a couple of minutes of it. It made me sick to my stomach. I know that I’m not alone in being upset about the hatred directed at blacks and Jews. It’s vile and disgusting. As a nation, we should be better than this.

Many people have spoken out about the false equivalency the president made between the behavior and character of white supremacists and that of counter-protesters. He said there was blame on both sides. He said that some of those people were “fine people.” But there is nothing fine or good about people who hate people of another race, religion, sex, or nationality. There is an evil darkness where their hearts should be.

Yesterday, we saw the outrage of a man who has no moral compass. His anger was directed at the people who pushed him to denounce the abhorrent behavior of racists. He showed his true colors. He is a man without morals. His comments shocked many but were absolutely consistent with everything he had already shown himself to be.

Last night, I went to bed distraught about racism, Anti-Semitism and the president’s defiant comments in defense of white supremacists. I prayed for my country. I had a dream that I was at some sort of protest. In my dream, I yelled out, “Jesus will prevail!”

My dreaming self reminded me that even when it seems that wickedness is getting the upper hand, hate will never win. Love is much more powerful than hate. It always has been and always will be.

Love builds others up.

Love consoles.

Love encourages.

Love gives me hope for my country.

Tonight, I pray the prayer of Saint Francis. Lord, in this torn and divided country, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is darkness, let me shine light. Where there is sadness, may I spread joy.

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

Red Letter Alerts

These are troubling times indeed. The country is deeply divided along political party lines. Hatred, hypocrisy and deceitfulness abound. Although I’ve watched this divisiveness build up for some time, I was not prepared for the deep division between believers. On one side of the divide are Christians like me who cannot condone behavior that completely contradicts the gospel of Jesus. On the other side are seemingly conservative folks who are able somehow to excuse vile, amoral behavior. And many believers are caught in the middle, not knowing what to believe.

This division between believers is distressing but it should not have surprised me. When I first realized how deep this chasm is, I remember thinking, Jesus warned us that it would be like this. Brother will turn against brother. Believers will be lured away by wolves in sheep’s clothing.

I can’t ignore the AMBER alerts on my phone. They’re too loud. Unfortunately, JESUS alerts are easy to ignore, especially if you let the noise of the world drown out his voice. So I spent some time rereading the red-letter words in my Bible, searching for other warnings.

Ten Red-Letter Warnings

1. Guard yourself against hypocrisy (Luke 12:1)

Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is holding yourself out to be godly but not being obedient to God’s commandments. It is reducing faith to a rigid set of rules about how people should behave – especially other people. It is an outward display of righteousness that does not match what is in the heart. Hypocrites honor God with their lips but their hearts are far from him; they worship God in vain. (Mark 7:6-7)

The Pharisees and teachers of the law were experts in religious laws and made a great show of piety. They practiced cleansing rituals and tithing but neglected more important matters like justice, mercy and faithfulness. They were greedy and self-indulgent. Even worse, they led other people astray.

Jesus was so disgusted by the hypocrisy of the Pharisees that he called them blind guides, a brood of vipers (Matthew 23:13-36). He saw through the outward displays of righteousness into their hearts. To guard yourself against hypocrisy, you must look inside your own heart to see what is not pleasing to God.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

2. Guard yourself against all kinds of greed (Luke 12:15)

Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.

Greed is an intense, excessive desire for wealth or possessions. Why did Jesus say that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of God? Because you can’t serve both God and money. If you place too much value on money and possessions, you become a slave to your possessions. You will not be devoted to God and the things he values. Instead of focusing on acquiring earthly possessions, we should store up for ourselves treasures in heaven. (Matthew 6:19-20).

But notice that Jesus said to guard against “all kinds” of greed. People can also be greedy for power or fame or attention. Be on guard against any overwhelming desire to acquire more for yourself.

3. Avoid temptation; Take all sin seriously (Matthew 5:19, Mark 9:43)

Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed, than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.

Jesus didn’t just warn believers to not be greedy, self-indulgent hypocrites. He warned his followers to take all sin seriously and to not lead others astray. Believers should remove any source of temptation even if it is painful. That may mean giving up something you value – a relationship, a job or a hobby.

Jesus didn’t just caution his followers not to sin in ways that people can see; he set the bar higher. For example, it is not enough to avoid killing; we must also avoid anger and hatred. It is not enough to avoid adultery; we must avoid lusting in our hearts. It is not enough to love your neighbor; we must love our enemies.

4. Watch your words (Matthew 12:34-37)

You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

Although Jesus was responding to the scribes and Pharisees in this passage, his words contain a warning for believers as well. Jesus made it clear that what comes out of our hearts is what makes us unclean. When I find myself saying something unkind, it’s a sign that my heart is not pure.

With this warning, Jesus also tells us how to discern wickedness in others so we can steer clear of their influence. We should not ignore hateful words because hateful words come from a hateful heart. Lies come from a deceitful heart. Bullying comes from a mean heart. Boastfulness comes from an overly proud heart.

Make a tree good and its fruit will be good.

5. Consider carefully how (and what) you hear (Luke 8:18, Matthew 13:11-15)

Jesus often spoke in parables. When the disciples asked why, Jesus told them that there are people whose hearts are too calloused and hard to understand his message. If they were receptive to Jesus, they would see and hear and understand with their hearts. Understanding a message through parables takes more study and reflection.

The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”

Jesus revealed secrets about the kingdom of God. Many people hear the message but do not believe. Others believe the word of God, but do not allow it to take root and change them. Anyone who sincerely seeks Jesus can hear and understand. But if we want to understand, we must consider carefully how we listen. Are we listening with an open heart? Are we remaining in his word so we can grow? Or are we letting his words be choked out by life’s worries, riches and pleasures?

There is a real danger in not paying attention to what Jesus is saying, in not sincerely seeking to know God’s will. To me, absolutely the worst words I could ever hear would be Jesus saying, “I don’t know you.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

6. Do not judge, or you too will be judged (Matthew 7:1-5)

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

This one is tough because a lot of people don’t understand the difference between judging and discerning. Jesus is not saying that we should ignore wrongdoing. He is not saying that we shouldn’t warn people about the consequences of sin. He is saying that unless we are without sin (and no one is), we are not qualified to judge other people. Instead of judging, we should focus our energy and attention on correcting our own behavior. We should put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. We are not to condemn other people if we don’t want to be condemned ourselves. If you want forgiveness, you must forgive. Again, don’t be a hypocrite. Deal with your own stuff first.

7. Watch out for deceivers (Matthew 7:15-16)

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit, you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?

People will come claiming to be righteous, claiming to speak for God,  but their real motivation is something else – power, money or status. How can you discern whether a teaching is false? Does it glorify God? Is it loving or hostile towards other people? Does it conflict with what the Bible teaches about God? Does it take scriptures out of context?

Be very suspicious of claims that just don’t ring true. The claim that God would “raise up” a wicked man to do something good for this nation does not ring true. Why? Because Jesus made it clear that an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. How do I know that a man is evil? By his rotten fruit: sexual immorality, hatred, discord, jealousy, anger, selfish ambition, arrogance, idolatry, cheating, greed, and dishonesty.

8. Be prepared for division (Matthew 10:34-36)

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”

Jesus warned his disciples about coming division. Being committed to Christ means your relationship with him is the most important relationship in you life. A believer’s values and goals conflict with the world’s values and goals. The choice to follow Jesus separates believers from those who reject him.

But I’m starting to see that the division is not just between those who believe in Jesus and those who don’t. I see the separation between hypocrites and real followers of Christ. I see the separation between Christians who pursue redemption through legalism and those who believe that salvation is through God’s grace alone (sola gratia). And Jesus said that when the Son of Man comes, “he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

9. Be prepared for hatred and/or persecution (John 15:18-21)

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.

People may hate you not because of what you’ve done or because of who you are but simply because you follow Jesus. As Jesus explained it, the world loves people who belong to the world. If you follow Jesus, you no longer belong to the world. You no longer conform to worldly values. You should be radically different – turning the other cheek, loving your enemies.

A couple of words of caution because many people distort the meaning of this warning.

  • Some believers blame Jesus because they are hated. But many non-believers hate Christians because they don’t see Christ-like behavior. They see a hypocrite. They see someone who is judgmental. They see someone who doesn’t love her neighbor as she loves herself.
  • Some believers use accusations of hatred as a weapon. If you don’t agree with them, they accuse you of being hateful.
  • Many Evangelicals falsely claim to be persecuted. Separation of church and state is not persecution. Not being able to say “Merry Christmas” is not persecution.
10. Be spiritually prepared for Jesus to return (Luke 21:25-28; Mark 13:32-33)

There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.

No one knows when Jesus will return. He will return when people least expect it. While I long for Jesus to return, I do not expect him to return anytime soon. But what if he did? Am I living a life that pleases him? Am I ready for the unexpected?

The first Christians expected Jesus to return at any time. When the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy around A.D. 64, he said that there will be terrible times in the last days. He also described the kinds of people that we should avoid.

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Guarding yourself with the gospel of peace

Jesus told his followers to be on guard because he did not want them to stray from his teaching. He wanted them to be prepared for difficulties – like the troubled times we face today. He wanted his followers to be on watch for his return.

I can’t imagine anyone who was more prepared for conflict than Paul. He was beaten and imprisoned for spreading the gospel. But he was not discouraged. He encouraged other believers to stand firm in their faith. In a letter to the Ephesians, Paul said to put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand when the day of evil comes.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

I pray that other believers when faced with the troubles of today will not listen to the teachings of modern-day Pharisees but will instead listen to the words of Jesus.

Confession Time: I will never be perfectly good.

Today at church, my pastor asked the congregation to raise a hand if we had a good week. Lots of hands went up. Then he asked, were you good this week? Almost everyone kept their hands down. But I saw a neatly dressed older man across the aisle from me raise his hand. The pastor again asked, were you perfectly good? Again the man raised his hand. All the while, I was thinking about my filthy mouth as I drove to and from work this week, in my car, alone. I was impatient with slow drivers, annoyed at those who aren’t as smart as me – the ones who don’t know where they’re going.

The pastor’s questions were the segue to our weekly quiet time of confession. I always have something to confess to the Lord: anger, impatience, unkindness, being judgmental, spiritual laziness, etc. In fact, I’m rarely finished confessing when the pastor speaks again to end the moment of confession time silence. Even if I’m only focusing on one particular sin that week, I pray about it deeply and sincerely.

I don’t personally know the man in the conservative dark suit who was perfectly good this week. Maybe he really is very pure in heart and had nothing to confess. I’m skeptical. I don’t believe anyone is perfectly good. Perhaps it’s because I know myself so well. I look in my heart on a daily basis and see how short I fall of God’s glory.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a memorial service for a woman who was described in the eulogy as an angel, a saint. Of course, that’s what a eulogy is for –  to speak highly of the departed. But the eulogy left me feeling comparatively bad because I know I’m no angel. Later, I spoke to a friend who was at the service and he said, “I always thought she was kind of pious. I wanted to go the service to see what she was really like.” He recalled a time when he referred to himself as a sinner in need of grace and the woman said, “I don’t think of myself as a sinner.” All I could say was “wow!” because I can’t imagine a day when I will ever think of myself as not a sinner.

I want to be good. I strive to be good. It would be great if there was ever a week, ever even one day, that I didn’t need confession time. My inner being delights in God’s law: 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 love your neighbor as yourself.

But another law is at work in me, waging war against the rules I know in my mind. I know that I should be patient, kind and generous. I know I should love my enemies. I know I shouldn’t cuss at other drivers! But selfishness is right there with me making me a prisoner of the sin at work within me.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:21-25)

Many people think they are good because they compare themselves to people who are bad. I confess that I will never be good because my standard is much higher. Thanks be to God for forgiving me even when I don’t deserve it.

Forgiven, forgiven, you love me even when I don’t deserve it.