St. Paul was deeply convinced that of himself he could do nothing but that in Jesus he could overcome all obstacles (Rom 7,8). Paul’s powerlessness was not passive nor was it a giving up of responsibility. It was rather a recognizing that all human efforts to be good and to do good need to begin with grace. To think that God assists us is to miss Paul’s point. That attitude suggests that it is we who design the map and plan the journey. The truth, as Paul was well aware, is quite different. Our task is to discover the map and give ourselves over to God’s plan for us.
Controversies over faith and works can conceal either a failure to take responsibility, on the one hand, or a conceit that we can save ourselves on the other. Only humility can save us from these extremes. Humility recognizes the divine leadership and willingly exerts itself to follow that leadership. The first rule for salvation is: God leads, I follow.
When I am discouraged, Lord, remind me of your saving power. When I am complacent about myself remind me of my past so that I may put my hand in yours and follow you wherever you would lead me.