Moral Muscle

Moral Muscle

23 September 2015

Reading: Romans 8; Psalm 71


5 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! 6 Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. (Romans 8:5-6 MSG)

You would think I’d have this figured out by now. Paul says that if I depend on my own efforts to be good—keep all the rules, exercise my own “moral muscle”—it never translates into real-life eternally valuable change. It’s just muscle flexing in the mirror at the religion gym.

If I am obsessed with measuring my own moral muscle I end up watching myself in the mirror and watching others out of the corner of my eye and either feeling pride (Wrong!) if my moral muscles look stronger than theirs or feeling guilty and hopeless (Equally Wrong!) if they’re flexing bigger moral biceps than me.

OK Paul, slowly and carefully, explain it to me again, please. How do I make this work? Oh, I don’t “make it work?” I trust God’s action in me to make it work?

In me, there is nothing that can make it work. In the day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment thoughts, words, and actions of life I make the determination to stop acting out of my selfish self, my “moral muscle” self, and ask God’s life-giving Spirit to call the shots.

15 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” 16 God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. (Romans 8:15-16 MSG)

OK, Paul. Let’s give this a try! Today I’m going to step out into an open, spacious life in Christ. I’m adventurously and expectantly asking God, “What’s next Papa?”


Father, Please help me live today centered in you, thinking, speaking, and acting out of the Spirit who lives in me—in my True Self. Amen.

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