I’m a nail biter. I have been all my life. My mom tried breaking me of the habit as a child with nasty tasting polish that is supposed to make you stop, but it didn’t do any good. Now I realize this probably sounds really stupid, but bear with me a minute. For the past week or so I’ve managed to not bite off my nails. A few of them are actually growing to a decent length and look pretty good. But it has taken a ton of self-control. Way more than it should for something so trivial.
Well, I looked down at one of my fingernails today after I’d stripped it off its shiny red polish and had a realization. My nails are the perfect metaphor of my (and the struggle of every Christian) daily struggle with sin. As Christians we have a new nature, but we still wage war with the old nature. (Read Romans 7)
Why do I bite my nails? Because I always have, because I’m bored, or stressed … because I don’t think it matters. And it is so much harder than it should be to stop. Seriously after going a week without biting them off that is all I want to do!
Now I don’t think whether I bite my nails matters one iota, but it reveals something so important: it shows my weakness. I am so helpless. Helpless to do right and helpless to keep from doing wrong. In my own strength I might power through for a few hours or days (or at least thing I have…) but I’ll fail. That is a certainty. It is only a matter of time before I end up right back where I started, must repent from trying in my own strength as well as repent from what other sins I’ve committed. This is why I have to rely on Christ’s strength always.
The internal battle to bite or not to bite my nails echoes the struggles in my life that actually matter, like whether or not I make time to study God’s word that day or collapse on the couch and just watch TV until bedtime. How I react when drivers refuse to let me merge into the turn lane on my way to work. I cannot treat people with kindness, love my enemies (or even my friends) or do any righteous thing apart from Christ. Some days I rely on him, but other days I must confess and repent over and over.
I really identified today with this post from Chris Hohnhutz from March 30: “I wish I was as Biblical as I sound.” Chris admits that despite his passion for Biblical truth, it can still be a daily struggle to spent time with the Lord, share the gospel in his own home and live it out. This isn’t hypocrisy, it’s reality … and Chris was humble enough to admit it. And I think that’s a good thing for all of us.
Challies.com has an interesting post today about criticism of one of my favorite hymns: Come Thou Fount. It’s a fascinating theological discussion over the line “prone to wander Lord I feel it.” An interesting post, but just from my life I can say that those words are indeed true and a great part of why I love the hymn so much. I’ve been saved since I was 8 and I have at times wandered. No, I’ve never turned completely away, but I’ve strayed from what I knew to be right. I have certainly been guilty of taking my eyes of off Jesus Christ and putting them on distractions of this earthly life. I’ve been guilty of disobedience and paid a huge price in my spiritual walk during those times. It is why that hymn cuts me to the core, as few other songs do.
Men of Mud also has a brand new post about the need for repentance, not only when we come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. But each time we sin.