Why Did You Do That?

Why Did You Do That?

 Birthday season at our house begins on November 1 (my Birthday) and continues through December (25—Jesus, 28—Sarah) and ends in January (25—Thomas, 28—Alissa).  I hit my milestone 40, Alissa is (I think) 29, and Sarah and Thomas are 4 and 6 respectively.  This means we have officially entered the “why did you do that?” stage of parenting.  For example, this morning on the walk to school, Thomas asked me, “what are those rocks on the ground?”  “Salt.”  “Like what we eat?”  “Not exactly.”  “Oh.  Why is there salt on the ground?” “To melt the ice.”  “How does salt melt ice?”  I could see, at this point, that my understanding of chemistry was about to be revealed for what it is: at best rudimentary, so I changed the topic.  “Did you finish you Lego set, buddy?”

Whether it’s walking to school, accelerating hard to pass someone on the road, or choosing a particularly large pot to boil water, the kids have questions: “why did you do that?”   But not only does this question get asked out loud by little minds wondering how the world around them works, it’s often a question we ask ourselves:  “why did I do that?”

St. Paul writes in Romans 7:  “For I do not understand my own actions.”  We are God’s people, chosen by him.  We have been given the Holy Spirit in our Baptism, whose desire it is to make us more like Jesus.  We have God’s Word, where we are taught what to do—and what not to do.  We want to live God-pleasing, righteous lives of joyful obedience to the God who has saved us.  And yet.  And yet we still do things that hurt others and cause us to fall into sin—greed, lust, envy, jealousy, anger, hatred, ungratefulness, selfishness… the list goes on.  But why?  Why do we do that?

We have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, to please God in what we say, think, and do—to live obediently to God’s Word as a response to his grace and forgiveness to us in Jesus.  But we still have our pre-conversion nature to contend with.  The devil and the world around us would like nothing more than for us to rejoin them in their persistent disobedience.  And so we are stuck between the two: we know who we are and whose we are, but we are always being pulled back from whence we came: darkness and death, a life lived apart from the reality that Christ has conquered sin and death.

“For I do not understand my own actions.”  Why did I just do that?  We all—every single one of us—struggles to have our actions, thoughts and words to match up with what we believe and know to be true.  We are God’s children, saved by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Instead of this being a letter encouraging you to bite down and try harder, I want to encourage you consider your brothers and sisters in Christ who are walking the same “why did I just do that” road of faith that you are.  Like you, they will mess up from time to time.  Like you, their faith will not line up with what you see them doing or saying.  And, like you, they would prefer you put the best construction on what they are doing, pray for them, and encourage them as brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are all in this together.  None of us understands our own actions, but all of us are blessed when we experience grace, forgiveness, and a reminder that we have been clothed in Christ and are part of his eternal family.  In the words of the Apostle John:  “love one another.”

In Christ,

Pastor Duncan



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