“Inside of me, there are two dogs. One is evil and the other is good and they fight each other all the time. When asked which one wins I answer, the one I feed the most.”
– Sitting Bull
Romans 7 is one of the most real and honest chapters in all of Scripture. It is Paul bringing the “theology“, the truth and spiritual reality of Jesus, the cross, grace, new life, right down into my very real daily existence and experience.
At one point his language moves from we to I. This is personal in and to him and it illuminates the personal battle within me (Rom 7:15-24). I have the desire to do what is right and good but continue to do the opposite. The mind of the Spirit – one dog, and the mind of the flesh – the other dog.
Paul’s conclusion, and mine, is “I cannot do it on my own! I’ve tried and failed countless times. WHO (not what) will deliver me?!”
It’s a deeply honest cry of desperation and exhaustion.
Two dogs: one good – set on life and peace (shalom) both now and for eternity; one evil – set on my destruction and death (steal, kill, destroy), both now and for eternity.
I offer you two things that stand out to me:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.“
No condemnation, no guilt, no pending penalty – it’s been paid by another, by Jesus. We are freed from that worry and weight. I must let that reality sink to my core.
Now, from this place of freedom, we participate in and have a role and responsibility in what comes after. There are two actions: “set your mind“ and “walk“. Think/believe and live/act.
Believe and behave are inseparable, they are the two wings of a bird – both are essential for flight.
In this battle within, according to Sitting Bull and Paul, the dog I feed the most, wins – every time.
So now what?
Right now, in our Covid-stressed world, in our racially and politically divided country, amid record levels of anxiety, stress depression suicide, violence and in my own personal inner battle for good, for hope, for peace, for life – I need more than ever to feed the good dog (and starve the bad one).
I want to…
Feed: Spend more time with Jesus, with his living and life-giving Word…
Starve: … and less time in the news.
(I’m not suggesting we ignore the news and choose ignorance. I am suggesting we value the Gospel (good news) over the rest of the news.)
Feed: Make and spend more time with good, life-giving friends – in person whenever safely possible…
Starve: … and less time with social media and virtual friends.
Feed: Spend more time together and with …
Starve: …and less time alone and apart.
Feed: Read and tell more stories of hope and faith and life…
Starve: … and less of, well, most of what we see and hear all around us.
And a reminder, I owe, you owe nothing to the old, evil flesh – no matter how much it barks and whines and tries to convince us otherwise. (Rom. 8:12)
We are now, in Christ, sons and daughters of the living and good God! (Rom. 8:15,16)
So, feed the good dog, by all means and out of gratitude and growing love for Him and his.