“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” (Matthew 22:37–40, ESV)
It is one thing to agree that the Two Great Commands should be operative in my life, it is entirely another for them to actually be operative. It is one thing to give assent to these commands, it is another thing to put them into action.
I thought about this during worship this morning (I’m writing on Sunday night). In our hymns and songs, we sometimes sing songs that are more aspirational than actual. In other words, we sing of things as we would like them to be but are not currently there.
I have a similar response to the two great commands. I give assent to them being true and right. I aspire to put them into practice, but I fall short on implementing both of the commands. I want to love God with my entire being, but too many things distract me from carrying through on it. I agree that I ought to love God that way but fail to put action to my inclination. I am resigned to the fact that I will never be whole-hearted in my devotion to God. I want to be, I seek to be, I try to be, but I fall short.
This is why I am glad that God saw fit to include Romans 7 in the Bible. I am glad because I find that I am in good company when I face my inability to carry out the commands. It turns out that the Apostle Paul shared this struggle with me. This fellowship gives at least partial comfort.
But like Paul, I can cling to the words in Romans 8:1, which tell me that even in my failure I am not condemned by God if I am in Christ Jesus.
For now, I will continue to have a gap between my assent and my action, but it will not always be so.
One day, Jesus will return or I will go to meet him and all will be put to right. The gap will be eliminated. Assent and action will be simultaneous.
What a relief that will be.