WEEK ONE: REPENTANCE
ROMANS 7:19 (NRSV)
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.
I learned to play Euchre at a junior high sleepover years ago. The rules are simple but I had trouble remembering those Jacks of trump! So many times I was told that I had “reneged.” I was excused the first few times but eventually the other players grew exasperated by my mistakes. Why couldn’t I remember? I KNEW the rules.
I love Paul’s honesty in our passage for today. Paul humbly and openly admits that the sinfulness within him keeps him from doing what is right. I wanted to follow the rules and play fairly in Euchre, but I didn’t always succeed. Both Paul and I wanted to do the right thing, but in spite of this, we kept on doing what we didn’t want to do!
The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines renege as “to go back on a promise or commitment.” In this week I have already reneged on the Lenten practices I was going to do. The truth is, we all renege- every single day. As followers of Christ, we are called to follow Jesus and to obey his commandments, but we often fail. Here are just a few for us to consider…
In our daily living, do we consistently deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Jesus? Do we love God with all our heart, soul and mind? Do we love our neighbor as ourselves? Do we love our enemies? Do we forgive seventy times seven? Do we sell our possessions and give the money to the poor? Do we keep awake and ready for his presence? Do we take nothing for our journey? Do we not worry? Do we welcome little children or become like them? Do we become last and the servant of all?
We are not alone in our reneging. All through the Bible, we read of people who made promises to God but then broke them. We read of people who knew what was right but didn’t perfectly obey. God has always kept God’s covenant. God’s people were the ones who failed.
In my younger years, in times of desperation I was often tempted to bargain with God. “God, if you only would do this… then I will do that…” Now I know better than to bargain with God! I know that I will never perfectly keep my end of the deal. I’m so relieved and grateful that God’s good promises and hope for my life do not depend on my perfect obedience, only God’s complete love, mercy and unbroken covenant with me.
What promises to others have you “reneged” on in recent times- perhaps even unintentionally- due to busyness, forgetfulness, or distraction?
Just for today, what broken commandment can you hear Jesus reminding you to try again?
As you consider God’s unfailing love and unbroken promises in your life, how would you like to thank God today?
Thank you for always keeping your promises to us. We have made promises to you. We have wanted to perfectly serve and obey you, but we have failed often! In fact, we know we fail every day. We are very sorry, and we ask for your forgiveness. Thank you for keeping your covenant with us in spite of our broken, imperfect selves. But help us to keep trying, and give us your power through Christ to do better. Amen.