These are the three things that make up our lives.  What we do; what we want to do; what we should do.  Sometimes, rarely for me, they are all the same thing.  There is usually a bit of tension, or a lot of tension, between these three things.  Some would argue that there is no difference between what we do and what we want to do.  They say that people always do what they want to do.  If people wanted to do something else, they would do it.  They really don’t want to do something else, or they would do that instead.  I think that is true to some extent, but I also believe that there can be, and usually is, a struggle within our being of what we are doing in various situations, and what we would rather be doing.  That struggle is normally between our minds and our hearts. Between our intellect and our desires.

Think of your job.  Most people don’t really like their jobs, or if they do like their job, they can think of a different job that they would rather be doing.  I read a quote recently that said, “Choose a job you love and you will never  work a day in your life.”  I love that quote.  I think most of us can relate to, and even applaud the sentiment that is expressed.  If you love doing your job; if you wake up every morning looking forward to doing your occupation, then it seems more like play or an adventure than “work”.  You Do your job because you Want to do your job.

That is just one example of the tension many people encounter with doing something, and wanting to do that thing.  In most areas of life, from finances, to social life, to what we do in our leisure time, we can experience an inner struggle between what we are doing and what we want to do.

And, if the struggle between what we do and what we want to do is not enough, there is always another element to consider – What we Should do.

Consider the job example.  Perhaps a person has a job to do, a job they want to do, but there is a gnawing inside them that they should be doing something else.  They look at their job, and experience a certain amount of joy and satisfaction from that job, but occasionally they ask themselves, “in the end, Does it really matter?  Does it make a significant difference to anyone?  Am I alleviating pain and suffering for anyone but myself?  Am I helping to end world hunger or bring about world peace?  Am I doing anything to make the world a more beautiful place for anyone but myself and my family?  Should I really care about those things?  Ought I to concern myself with anyone but me?  And if so, Why?”

I believe that God loves us and wants us to be happy.  In his word to us he tells us many things that we should do.  Things that will make us happy.  He created us thus he knows what makes us happy.  All the things that we should do to be happy fall into two broad categories;  love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, And love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Think about when you fell in love.  Normally when we fall in love, we think about our boyfriend or girlfriend all the time.  We want to be with them all the time and can’t wait to receive a text message, email, phone call or letter from him or her.  We hang on every word from our beloved.  We give them cards and flowers and little gifts and big gifts. We talk and talk and talk and love being together. We do these things.  We want to do these things.  We should do these things.  It makes us happy to make them happy.

The same thing should happen with God.  He created us to be sublimely happy, full of joy, when we are in right relationship with him.  When we are spending time with him, reading his love letter to us, the Bible.  Our joy is increased when we are loving those in the community of faith as we love ourselves.  Our joy or happiness is complete when we venture into a hurting world and bring spiritual, physical and mental healing.

These things SHOULD happen with God and with others, but many times they don’t happen.  Martin Luther said that we struggle on a regular basis with the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.  These three enemies do not want us to love God and our fellow man.  They do everything in their power to keep our focus and energy and devotion on ourselves.

Do you struggle with the World, the Flesh, and the Devil?  Do you feel a tension within between what you do, what you want to do, and what you should do?  I do.  And you know what?  We are in good company.  The apostle Paul also battled.  In his greatest theological letter, the one he wrote to the Romans, he takes up a whole chapter talking about his personal struggle.  This mighty warrior of the faith, this saint of God, could have just left this portion of his epistle out, and it still would have been his greatest literary work.  But thank God he included it.  By writing the words that we call Romans seven,  He lets us know that it is normal to struggle with what we do, what we want to do, and what we should do.  Here’s the way he puts it:

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.
So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  Romans 7:15-20

So this a normal human struggle, especially for a Christian who is trying to keep the commandments, who really wants to love God with all his or her being and really wants to love his or her neighbor as he loves himself or herself.  We find ourselves failing to meet this goal everyday, if not every hour.  It’s normal.  It is also normal to beat ourselves up about our failures.  But it is not acceptable to condemn ourselves.  Paul goes on to say in Romans eight that there is no condemnation from God for those who walk in the Spirit and not in the Flesh.  Walking in the Spirit doesn’t mean we don’t struggle, it means our goal in life is to love God and seek him first.  It means that we recognize our frequent failures and go regularly to our compassionate heavenly Father asking for forgiveness today and strength and insight for tomorrow to win more battles than we lose against the world, the Flesh, and the Devil.  We ask Him to  open the eyes of our hearts to the reality of What we do, What we want to do, and What we should do.

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kindness mother teresa

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