STAYING FIT (excerpt from Chapter 4)
When working out at the gym, it’s not uncommon to have someone review all of the equipment with us and help us determine which equipment will bring the most benefit. For eating right, we may consult books and other avenues that can help us know which food will be best. In both cases, we are looking to an expert who has experience and can guide us along.
Spiritually, in addition to the Bible, we have the Holy Spirit—the Counselor, Helper, and Guide—as our expert. We need to learn more about how to hear His voice and allow Him to rule our lives. I’ve already mentioned the first step to knowing His voice, which is reading the Bible so that we can know God and what He says about us. The next step is getting things out of the way that interfere with His voice.
This chapter focuses on three primary problem areas where we can be out of balance and therefore unable to hear God clearly. One, we are driven by our feelings and desires; two, we want what we see and we want it now; and three, we are in control so we don’t need anyone or anything. 1 John 2:16 names these problem areas the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Read each of the following translations of 1 John 2:15-16. Notice the very clear contrast between the world and the love of Jesus.
The New International Version (NIV):
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.
The Message (MSG):
Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.
The Amplified Bible (AMP):
Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one's own resources or in the stability of earthly things]--these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself].
In today’s world, following Jesus and living like Jesus are incredibly difficult because we are constantly striving against the victim mentality and our selfish culture of entitlement. As we’ve discussed already, choice is the key. We must challenge ourselves: “Am I willing to invest time feeding myself with what is pure, lovely, and excellent, and turn away from things that drain me, bring me down, and make me lazy?” As with physical exercise, spiritual discipline starts with a belief that it’s both possible and necessary. After the belief must come the decision and the resolve to do whatever it takes to change.
If we seriously want to follow Jesus as His disciple and lead others to Him, growing in our relationship with Him is not an option. It is a necessity.
Coming next week...
Meet Lucy, our cover girl, and her creator. Get a first look at the newly designed cover. Plus, find out more details about the release date for Intentional Fitness: Working Out Your Salvation so Others Can See Jesus.
Have a very blessed weekend!