Recently, I had the time and opportunity with my husband to visit some older members of one of the churches we serve and found the sense of personal satisfaction these visits provided was uplifting. The trouble was that while I had a sense of personal satisfaction for the effort and effect of these visits, the question of whether what motivated me to make these visits was what it ought to be remained. Did I visit for my desire to feel good about doing a good deed, or did I visit simply because it is the right thing to do? In other words, did I do what I did to feel good about me, or did I do what I did out of love for my neighbor regardless of how I feel? Did I visit for me or did I visit for the ones I visited and for God?
I don’t like to face these questions because they make me face things about me I don’t want to admit, yet the truth is what it is. I desire to do good but I find there is something in me that wants to feel good about me. I am thankful that the Apostle Paul was able to come to the conclusion I am driven to admit about myself; “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15, NIV84) “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24, NIV84).
In his small catechism, Luther reminds us that keeping the law of God requires that we be motivated by the fear and love of God in all we do and what we refrain from doing. As I look at my life, I am reminded that I am dependent on what God has done for me and that alone that my deeds be found righteous in His sight. “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” (Romans 7:25, NIV84)
Oh that God will continue to drive us to trust in Christ and find our joy in His faithfulness!