How can we make progress in our struggle against sin?
We are "fearfully and wonderfully made," yet we find in ourselves an incredible bent toward selfishness and overconfidence in our own abilities. Earlier generations expressed this truth by saying that we are “crooked timber.”
Is there anything that we can do? Jesus explains to his disciples in response to their question about who will be the greatest that humility is our greatest virtue in our struggle against sin while pride blinds and deceives (Matt 17-19). How can we grow in humility?
Jesus' extravagant offering of grace should humble us for the rest of our lives, yet often we slip into arrogance, withholding mercy, privileging ourselves, becoming critical and judgmental of others, elbowing our way forward despite the fact that we've been shown grace (Matthew 18:15-35). We certainly are crooked timber. But there's an opportunity here: If we keep our eyes open to the ways we fail to love, it will humble us. By taking a few minutes to prayerfully review our day with the Lord, asking Him to show us where we failed to love, we will see our sin (Matthew 25: 31-46) and our desperate need for grace.
It's amazing to me how often something comes to mind during my review, that in the moment I completely brushed over. Remembering that humility is our greatest virtue encourages me to wake up, and let reality (life as it actually is) humble me. I won't overcome my flaws, but I can make progress.
"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones." - I Thess. 3
p.s. For more specific information about how to approach a daily review consider these resources: "Prayer of Examen" a 1-page overview from the C.S. Lewis Institute; Helen Cepero's book Journaling as a Spiritual Practice; a blog post on danwilt.com "The Daily Examen, A Reorienting Rhythm For A Distracted Age" (Dan describes how he practices a daily review). There are many additional resources online: search on the key word phrase: "prayer of examen,"