On the mind of the Rev. Adrian Dannhauser

Jul 14, 2023

“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Rom. 7:15)

Anyone who has ever gone on a diet knows the truth of these words. Have you ever been getting ready for bed and then found yourself in the kitchen looking for something sweet? It happens to me more than I care to admit.

I go for just a bite of ice cream that turns into five bites, or I grab the brownie sitting right next to the ice cream. I had put the brownie in the freezer, thinking that would keep me from digging in. But it turns out frozen baked goods are just as tempting as fresh ones.

It’s nearly midnight, which I know is the worst time of day to be eating a brownie, or any food for that matter. I tell myself this before eating the brownie, while eating the brownie, and after eating the brownie.

But there was no stopping me. No matter what logical reasoning was going through my mind, I was thinking with my stomach. “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

And truth be told, I wasn’t blowing my diet. I wasn’t even on a diet per se. I was blowing my lifestyle choice. I had decided long ago: “I’m not someone who eats brownies at midnight.” But there I was doing just that.

The same can be said for sin. I’ve chosen a Christian lifestyle, so I’m not someone who lies, cheats or steals. Or gossips, or thinks mean thoughts, or snaps my husband.

Yeah right. “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

This is one of the Bible’s most honest moments. The Apostle Paul identifies the most human of frustrations: “I don’t understand my own actions.”

Last Sunday, Deacon Denise spoke to this ultimate inconvenient truth in her sermon. She rightly noted that, in fact, we might be able to understand our actions after all if we give them prayerful thought, which leads to greater self-awareness.

“Self-examination is knowledge, and knowledge is power,” she said. And then,“ Knowledge can also land us in grace.”

Knowledge can also land us in grace. What a beautiful Gospel truth!

Knowledge of our sin lands us in the grace of God’s forgiveness.

Knowledge of our weakness lands us in the grace of God’s strength.

Knowledge of our gifts lands us in the grace of gratitude.

Knowledge of God’s will for our lives (writ large and small) lands us in the grace of a meaningful existence.

Knowledge of the beauty and brokenness of humanity lands us in the grace of prayer.

Knowledge of our preciousness in God’s sight lands us in the grace of knowing our true worth.

Knowing ourselves and knowing God are two sides of the same coin. When we take up these dual pursuits together, we always land in God’s grace.

Will this lead us to less sin and more good works? Hopefully. Will it lead me to fewer midnight brownies? I’ll let you know.

Most importantly, knowledge of self and knowledge of God lead us to greater love. And that is the perfect place to land.