I almost messed up big time. It can be difficult to know if you should just listen to how you feel and give in, or just keep pressing on. I’m not talking about that little voice inside your soul that whispers, “You know this is wrong.” I’m talking about the flesh, bones, joints and muscles of you, that scream, “You know this is hard, and I don’t want you to make me do it anymore!”
I made a personal commitment to myself a couple of weeks ago – one of the classic ones, “I resolve to exercise every day.” It doesn’t have to be big, like a two-hour workout or even something considered “complete” like I usually choose to do but often don’t have time for. Just a time set apart from my day to raise my heartrate, tax my muscles or stretch enough to maintain that flexibility I enjoyed in my younger years.
I place this commitment in my “good report” thinking from Philippians 4:8. “Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”
Exercise yields a good report. It has been studied and the results have been documented in print and in the flesh of those who enjoy better health because of it. Exercise is good. But because of the same “flesh” between our ears, we start to think that if some of a good thing is good, lots of a good thing is better. We can go overboard and sink trying to somehow be a better version of ourselves. The flesh demands its price.
1 Timothy 4:8-9 says, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and that which is to come. This a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.” Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” So even if there is a small profit from exercise, it is still a profit.
There are very few things in the Bible that we do physically that are mentioned as profitable. Even the great heroes of the faith knew that being physically active produced benefit. However, any good thing taking precedence over our spiritual growth causes it to be less than what it was intended.
…any good thing taking precedence over our spiritual growth causes it to be less than it was intended.
Our goals or resolutions should always be held up to the light of God’s Word. I may think my way into all sorts of distractions from His will and His ways, declaring something noble and of good report and all the while leaving Him behind me. Doing it for “self-improvement” instead of “Spiritual improvement” in my life.
Regardless of my motives, I was serious. I know my tendency to put things off, (I am such a procrastinator), therefore, I resolved this would happen first thing in the morning. Even before coffee. Big mistake. Setting my alarm an hour before our normal alarm goes off or an hour before I have to be getting ready to be somewhere was the plan as well. Sleepy eyed, I would grab a water bottle and head to my workout/craft room in the basement and sweat it out for about an hour.
Three days in to my commitment, I had to be somewhere early, one week in and I needed to be somewhere even earlier. I was beginning to think I should exercise before bed, but then I would be too revved up to sleep! All this getting up early and not sleeping well because I was worried about getting up early weakened my immune system and I got sick. How’s that for self-improvement?
Yet I was determined, getting up, getting the water, sweating it out and struggling through the day exhausted. Finally, four days into “sick” I put up the white flag and went to the doctor. The recommendation “rest.” Along with an antibiotic and steroids. Thank you, Lord, for medical providers and medicines and wise instructions for those of us who don’t know when to quit.
Our goals or resolutions should always be held up to the light of God’s Word.
Romans 8:5-6 says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Carnal minded refers to thinking in a merely human realm, temporal, here and now existence. Being a child of God, I have more than that to live for. Every commitment I make, I should make it considering the good of the eternal me, the spiritual me that will live forever, from here to my heavenly home. Thus, the struggle with the flesh.
Every commitment I make, I should make it considering the good of the eternal me, the spiritual me that will live forever, from here to my heavenly home.
After I went back to bed, saying it was just too hard and I give up, there was that darn little voice again. “There is no peace and life in this.” “Yeah, I know” I replied, “but no one would fault me for it,” and so went the conversation in my carnal mind. Eventually, out I came again with an energized resolve that the flesh lost this one. Or did it?
In this life, there is so little we have control of. We have had no control of where we were born or whom we were born to. We have no control of the genetic material we were created to grow from or the reaction the world we live in has towards us. But there is one thing we do have complete control over – our own free will to choose Christ and His will in our lives.
Our Creator wants all of us. He wants every decision and every reason for every decision to be for Him and His purpose. What is that for you? I can’t answer except to say that He gives you the freedom to choose it, and it is very specific for the unique woman He created you to be. And that if you seek Him and His ways in His Word, you will find it. Each day you give to Him, He will show you, in big and small ways, who you are in Him. And in each day, as you choose, according to the Spirit, you will experience the “life and peace” He speaks of in Romans 8:6.