Proverbs 19:23 (NIV)
The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
Went to the doctor today for my annual visit. That was a big mistake. Don’t get me wrong I love my doctor. He has been my doctor for more than a decade. He and his wife are wonderful people but there are times when our visits become a wakeup call. Yesterday’s visit would be no exception. I knew that I had gained some weight. After months of a consistent exercise and a healthy diet, I had fallen off the wagon slightly. Okay, maybe a lot. But I had no idea how far I had fallen until the scale display resonated a fifteen-pound weight gain. What? I got off the darn thing and got right back on to make sure it was working. There had been severe thunderstorms that day perhaps it got struck by lightning. I really don’t remember much more of the visit as I continued to beat myself up for all the bad choices I had been making. Too tired or just plain lazy to work out. Eating what I wanted rather than what was good for me. I know, I know it’s just a number. How do I feel? Truthfully, deceived by my body if you must know the truth. I fell for my flesh like I do so many times in other ways. When we become too comfortable in life that complacency sneaks up on us.
As I approach the big five-o, my goal has been to live a healthier lifestyle. Over the past three years, I got pretty good at it. But then I decided one hamburger and some fries wouldn’t kill me. Reintroducing bread and fried food to my diet didn’t seem too harmful at the time. I rationalized that life is all about balance, right? Yes, it is. Everything is permissible but not everything we do in life is beneficial. Where is that verse anyway?
I Corinthians 10:23 (NLT)
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.
This verse means different things to different people. “I am allowed to do anything.” Do you believe that? Well, of course you are silly. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. There is God’s Perfect Will and Permissible Will. Those who want God’s Perfect Will take their life and align it with God’s Word. Not because they have to, but because they want to. They want God’s Perfect Will and will do whatever it takes to have it. Then there are other Christians who are perfectly happy with God’s Permissible Will. God has given you and I the freedom to decide how much or how little of Him that we want in our life. We can do anything but not everything we do is good for us. I am “allowed” to do anything, but everything I do does not benefit my life. I can eat hamburger and French fries every single day of my life for the rest of my life if I want to. I can add all the desserts and donuts I want to. I love donuts. Throw in some sweet tea, and buddy we are living the good life. Although freedom allows us to do anything, it doesn’t alter our destination or outcomes. You sow in the flesh there you will reap. Sow to the Spirit and ahhh things begin to change. It is all about discipline.
Hebrews 12:11-13 (NLT)
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.
Discipline is never fun. It is not enjoyable. But it is absolutely necessary as we turn our lives completely over to God. We cannot do things the way that we have always done them and expect different results but people do it all the time. This is called insanity. You cannot sow in the flesh and reap in the Spirit simply because it is not logical. God is true to His Word. Live according to His Word – your outcomes will change. It is no different than me watching workout videos eating ice cream on the couch and thinking that I am making a healthier choice. Discipline requires movement. It is to accept change. It takes commitment because it is always contradictory to our flesh. I want a peaceful harvest of right living. Sometimes that means getting a grip and getting on my knees. I am not concerned with fifteen plus pounds as much as what it represents in my life. It means that I am lacking healthy discipline that I would like restored. My goal is better health. I must mark out a straight path for my feet and ask the Lord to help me on meet my goals.
There are some days as believers that we lack in discipline. There are times when we stop striving and pressing to coast along in God. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Sometimes it may even be called rest. But when we become too comfortable there is a thing called complacency that can soon take over. Complacency is to become pleased with oneself and our situation often without awareness of some potential danger or defect. It is a place of self-satisfaction. Maybe you have been there before. You have been running the race of faith so well that you decide you deserve a break but then that break becomes an indefinite delay. Suddenly, you find yourself slipping back into old ways that where of no real benefit in the first place. How did I get here? How do I get out? Discipline is the answer although not always a pleasant one.
Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
We must be very careful to know the difference between contentment and complacency in life. We must know what God says about our life and strive to maintain it. When we walk in His Ways, and live by His Word this is called discipline. Discipline thrives in obedience. It takes discipline to be obedient. There will be times when the Lord gives us rest and we will be comfortable. Enjoy these times as Jesus refuels, refreshes and renews your life. But be ready for the next step to come, don’t be complacent and decide that this is good enough God so I will stop here. To be healthy, I need to lose 15 pounds. The world would like me to go to the extreme which would equate to losing about 25 pounds. My goal physically is to be a healthy example for my children. Make good food choices and exercise regularly. Seems simple until it’s time to go to the gym or choose a salad over a greasy burger. Life with the Lord is the same way.
As believers, we must decide what we want out of this life. We decide the amount of God’s Presence that fills our space. If we want Jesus more than anything, it means not getting too comfortable as we learn to live in step with God. He is a moving and making God who is doing great things in our life every moment that we breathe. We must constantly make room for God’s Movement in us and through us. We can do anything! Freedom gives us this right. I choose to use my freedom today to let God be my strength, my helper, my provider, my healer and deliverer. I want Him to be my everything. This is going to require discipline and commitment on my part that I must be willing to give to have all of Him filling every facet of my life.
I Timothy 6:6 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.