I spent some time recently with my family doing target practice. We were shooting at the target from about 30 yards away with a 9 mm. I aimed at the bullseye, squeezed the trigger and hit the bottom left of the target. I aimed at the bullseye again and got the same result. I adjusted my stance and aim, then lined up again and hit the bullseye. Out of ten shots, I was only able to hit it three times. I found that I was inconsistent at trying to hit the mark.
Living the Christian life is a lot like that. We aim for the perfect Christian life, but over and over again, we miss the mark. We adjust our approach, we change our stance and do what we can to hit the bullseye. We get it right some of the time, but a lot of times, we just don’t measure up. When that happens, we try harder. Sometimes that just messes things up worse. In the end, a lot of us get frustrated because we just can’t be consistent and live this life the way we wish we could.
Paul faced a similar struggle. In Romans 7, he described the struggle well. In verse 15 he said, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” He continues in verse 19, “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” Paul understood the frustrations of trying to live a perfect christian life. In fact, in verse 24, he said trying and failing just made him miserable. He knew that no matter what, He couldn’t do right all the time. Sound familiar?
We fail when we think that being a Christian is within our own power and abilities. We are not perfect and therefore cannot be perfect all the time. Besides, our salvation is not dependent on our actions, but rather on the work that Jesus did on the cross. Yes, we should try to live godly lives in response to what He did, but don’t get misled into thinking that living a perfect life is how you get into Heaven. Our lives should be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:5-6 says, “Those who live as the Spirit tells them to, have their minds controlled by what the Spirit wants. To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace.”
If your life looks like my target and you’re miserable because you can’t live up the the perfect expectations you’ve placed on yourself, spend some time in Romans 7 and 8. Paul found that the answer is not in our own abilities, but in His. Jesus” death on the cross makes up for all the times we miss the mark. We have to accept His grace and allow Him to apply it to our imperfect lives. It starts with admiring you can’t do it (Romans 7) and finding that the answer lies in Jesus (Romans 8). Don’t give up. Keep living for Him and learn to rely on His grace instead of your actions.