What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Romans 7:24, NIV
I felt this Scripture very worthy of reflection in the life we must learn to understand – once clothed in Christ and adopted into His Body, as this verse resonates with me and how I wrestled with my new life -- saved in Christ.
The apostle Paul is reflecting on his life – in Christ Jesus – and yet still writes “what a wretched man I am!” Now, the first time I heard this preached I said to myself, “Ut oh. While I don’t know much about Paul, given that he wrote a lot of the New Testament, if he considers himself ‘wretched,’ then what does that make me?” I would not have necessarily considered myself wretched, however in comparison to Jesus, who among us is not? And He is the only reflection and comparison for us all – is He not?
A little further understanding of this verse comes through reading not only Romans in its entirety, but through reading more of Paul’s writings. He is not just reflecting on himself [here] as wretched, rather having been the man he was (i.e. Saul) he is still burdened by that past and thus is reminded, perhaps daily, by that past. He carries the death of Stephen in his mind; he carries the authorization of many deaths and vile acts with him as he grows and prospers in his new life; he shoulders the burden of having destroyed families that were worshipping the way he now too worships. That is a lot of pain, and thank God that he shares it, here, with us!
I cannot compare my life with Paul, for I am not Paul. I cannot compare my life with my pastor, for he is himself and I am me. I am either: right or just, wrong or wretched, in the eyes of my Judge; the Creator and Father. I thank God too that I don’t just ‘forget’ that which gave me cause to come to the Cross and beg for forgiveness. I thank God for that pain in my life still; that I can reflect on His grace and mercy and that I can continue to grow in Him; He never lets me forget so that I may continue to help those that need to hear the Good News. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14, NIV).