Only today I came across a reference to Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice in which he has Portia say,
If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o’er a cold decree.
Oh yes, what truth. Previously, well before William Shakespeare thought to lift a quill, Paul had written of such to the Romans. Chapter 7 verse 15
“That which I do I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.”
Been there? Done that? Have the souvenir? Of course we do; we all do for we Christians are rather similar. The secret, though, is that we won’t burrow around on that level. We refuse to camp on that piece of ground: Pitching a tent on such a stretch and ringing in the stakes is just not in our new nature.
For Paul didn’t end his exhortation there, but went on to say in verse 22
“…I delight in the law of God after the inward man:”
Yes! that’s it. It’s the righteousness we revel in, it’s a quickness in our spirit that chaffs at sin as we regard our ugly missteps. We are bent now toward the holy and we arch toward the sublime. The more righteous we become, the richer develops the godly inward man.
None of nourishing and embellishing the inward man and speaking of those desires is to smack a crown of self-righteousness onto our fallible heads. Not at all, but neither should we hesitate to proclaim that we’re after the golden ring of piety and goodness. We’re chasing after sainthood and godliness. Don’t laugh at yourself. Don’t be embarrassed to confess that’s what you after; Heaven is where you’re heading.
Of course we’re all sinners–sinners saved by grace. Perhaps too long that has been an excusing chant, and perhaps we have spouted it too much, so that such image threatens to become our own.
“What shall we say then?” Paul demands. “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid (He may have shouted and pounded the pulpit and paced about…)How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 6:1-2
It’s a marvelous business. We’re up to it, we’re ready for it; we’re called, we’re anointed, we’re destined for this business–this business of doing good.
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