We all fail in many ways, as James chapter three points out. Some flaws persist for years with only modest change. Recently, I was praying about one of my ongoing flaws. I have told the Lord more than once I never want to fail in this particular way again. I was telling Him this again when He disclosed my motive: Basically, I want the Lord to permanently fix this problem so I can have some sort of righteousness in myself.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with what I prayed in one sense. Wanting to overcome a certain flaw isn’t wrong in itself. But sometimes, “godly” desires just cloak self-centered ones.
Paul hoped for something better: “…that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ” (Php. 3:9). Any righteousness based in me and my behavior is not based in Christ. If I can be right on my own, I don’t need Jesus. This is the same old lie from the garden repackaged. The serpent promised if we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil we would be like God, knowing good and evil (Gen. 3). In other words, if you’re like God, you don’t need God. In fact, you are God.
None of us wants to be indifferent about our behavior. The Bible doesn’t suggest we should. We are told to repent of sin, admit wrongdoing, and seek forgiveness. We are promised that Christ is our sanctification, and that we will grow in His likeness. But we also find that God will leave a thorn in our flesh, and that His grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).
I pray that God’s grace will be enough for each of us. Depending on His grace in our weakness is better than working toward moral perfection. God’s weakness is, after all, stronger than our strength (1 Cor. 1:25).