Okay, can we make a promise? You cannot tell my husband the following (I fear it will inflate his pride): He is usually right when it comes to making logical decisions, and I’m usually just a big bawl of emotions (pun intended). Usually, this is evidenced when sweets are involved. (I apologize for fulfilling so many stereotypes already, but seriously, this is so true.)
Our typical banter looks like this:
“Ugh, I just need to stop buying dessert, we just can’t have it in our house!”
“Rachel, just use self-control.”
“But, uhhh, it’s just easier when we don’t have it…” and then I proceed to scoop myself a bowl of ice cream and my husband subsequently rolls his eyes at me.
I look back at this and laugh because I’m so predictable, but I also cringe because I’m so weak. I SHOULD be able to just use my self-control, but I’ve realized over time that it goes much deeper than being able to say “no” without God’s help. Darn concupiscence…
Named “the Law of Sin,” by St. Paul in Romans, concupiscence is the misuse of the will to satisfy a sinful or selfish desire – usually related to the flesh. Our inclination toward concupiscence is not sinful but acting upon the desire is. And this is exactly what St. Paul is warning us about in this section of his letter.
My husband is right that all I need to say is “no.” But, I need more than just a “reasonable control” over my will in order to fight my selfish desires, I need the Spirit. For my mind “that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot… for if [we] live according to the flesh [we] will die, but if by the Spirit [we] put to death the deeds of the body [we] will live” Romans 8:7; 13
It isn’t just about what I do, whether or not I say no to something, but rather, who it is that I allow to govern my life – the Spirit or the flesh. It is about saying, “yes” to God in all things. “Yes,” please teach me how to eat in a way that does my body good. “Yes,” please teach me how to fast well, and how to feast well (we’d be remiss to forget that Jesus did multiply the wine at Cana…).
Balance and obedience, my dear sisters, it’s all about balance and obedience.
What is it in your life you ignore the Spirit for the satisfaction of the flesh? Food, sex, alcohol, binge watching TV, avoiding prayer or friends and family for other comforts? Ask the Lord to enlighten your heart today, ask for His mercy and love. And in the future, call upon the Spirit in times of need.
“Lead us not into temptation, Lord, but deliver us from every evil… Amen”