Just before writing for this blog for the week we witnessed yet another time a behavior that Matthew has been developing over the past year…doing something he knows is wrong and then punishing himself for doing it.
It started with his way of getting our attention, his way of letting us know: “I know you don’t like this…but I get a reaction when I do it”. He began pinching us to get our attention and progressed to pinching when he was mad or upset. We started to correct him and discipline in the form of telling him “nice hands” and having him fold his hands nicely as a form of time out. Now he pinches and self-disciplines by folding his hands and flashes his trademark smile.
His newest thing is to push his baby sister Sarah down and then run to his bedroom to take the mandatory time out by setting the timer and taking a seat in the appointed chair.
I have the same response you may be having…telling myself that he knows what he is doing but decides to do it anyway. He knows that there is consequences but doesn’t care if he hurts someone or something.
He has figured out that there are consequences but hasn’t figured out that the things he is doing are serious grievances. He hasn’t come to the point that by doing the things he does hurts other people…not only physically but emotionally.
As I was reflecting on what I was going to write I was overcome with the realization that I do the exact same thing Matthew does. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote about this same kind of struggle with doing wrong in a letter to the Romans:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. 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.
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 of death?
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
I was reminded that I often do the things I don’t want to do. I may know what is right in situations but allow fear, embarrassment, sacrifice or just plain pride to allow me to do what is wrong. My self-discipline is guilt. I can carry it around for days, months or years.
We have to remember that it is spiritual and as long as we decide and try to do good we will always deal with the desire to not do good.
I am glad that on a cross 2,000 years ago I was given the following option:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
Next time you are given the chance for right or wrong…remember the title of this blog entry: “Just Don’t Do It”…and do the right thing.