Today I joined a gym.
Before you ask “How long is this going to last?” Know I’ve already asked myself that at least a dozen times.
I’ve read the Scriptures commanding me to take care of my body more times than I can count. And every single time, I’ve felt the Spirit spur me to action…
- “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NLT
- “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Romans 12:1, NLT
…But I repeatedly drop the ball and don’t persevere.
There have been many times I started to make changes to live a healthier lifestyle and have quit almost as soon as I started. Sometimes life gets in the way and derails my efforts. But more often than not, it’s laziness—my determination flatlines. I get tired of being “good, ” and want to eat what I want. I make every excuse I can think of, unlace my shoes, and buy myself some chocolate turtles.
These are the times I could’ve used someone to keep me accountable.
But I didn’t have anyone because I was confident I could do it by myself. On my own. No one needed to be there for me. I didn’t need anyone’s encouragement. I didn’t need anyone on my back, keeping me accountable. Nope, I’m good! It’s just me and my treadmill—alone. We got this!
And then I’m downing another package of turtles. Feeling guilty. Unhappy in the skin I’m in.
And feeling like a failure—again.
I’ve read the articles on the importance of a trainer. I’ve experienced the success that comes from attending the classes and being part of a community. I’ve built the relationships necessary to held accountable. And I flourished.
But when I went back to school in 2010 I stopped going to the gym. Those healthy habits faded and those relationships ended. The accountability was gone. And I never really got back on track. Nor have I been successful in any of my attempts at physical fitness since then.
Because I was determined to do it alone.
I know my size and fitness level don’t determine my worth. But THEY DO impact my health and my effectiveness for the Gospel because they influence my energy level and stamina in fulfilling the calling God gave me. That is what’s propelling me to make this attempt successful.
Dear One, the same thing applies to our Spiritual life.
We need each other. We need community. We need the encouragement of others. We need the instruction of our pastors, teachers, and friends.
Far too often I see Christians try to go it alone. They have the same attitude about Bible study and prayer that I did with fitness, and they peter out just as quickly.
It takes determination and effort to create a habit that’s critical to your existence; that increases your stamina and enhances your vitality; that changes you for the better and upgrades your health.
Like the sore muscles, strained tendons, and burning lungs I need to push through when working out; we have to overcome the distance of time, variations in culture, and differences in language when trying to understand Scripture. We have to leap over the hurdles of who wrote the passage we’re reading, who was it written for, why was it written, and when was it written before we can consider what it’s saying to us. These things are hard at first, but over time they become more natural—if not exciting.
But as we make that transition, small groups and godly friends are essential to your success. They not only help you understand what you’re reading, remind you to leap those hurdles, and encourage you to apply what you’re learning; but they keep you accountable.
Friends, I had to come face-to-face with my pride in the area of fitness. I had to admit I needed help, encouragement, and accountability to achieve my goals. But now I have confidence I can and will accomplish those goals because I decided to engage in a community that is determined to help me flourish.
And if you need to face pride in the areas of Bible study and being part of a Christian community, face it! When you do I’m confident you will experience a vitality you didn’t know possible, stamina is times of trial, and energy to propel you tackle the purpose God has for you!