I do some of my best thinking (that’s not saying much!) while I’m hiking. Today I finally got back on that horse. After six weeks of not exercising I finally got off the couch and hit the trail. I knew it was gonna be tough. Why is that when I finally get back into shape, I take six weeks off and have to start (almost) all over again?! Why am I so lazy?
As I was struggling up the familiar trail I was asking myself, “why is discipline so hard for me?” As I thought about it I saw parallels with my struggle staying in physical shape and my struggle staying in spiritual shape.
When I am hiking and biking every day, it doesn’t take but two weeks to get in pretty good shape. As I stick with it I start to grow stronger and I look forward to my hikes and bike rides. When I start to let it slide, I start to lose my strength and it’s harder to hit the trail. So it is with my walk with the Lord.
When I am praying every day and reading my Bible and setting aside time for that sweet fellowship with the Lord I hear His voice! I am drawn into His presence even more! In John 14, Jesus was talking to His disciples (disciplined followers) just before He was turned over to the Priests to be crucified. How do you get to know God better? Obey!:
21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
Want to know to Christ better? Obey His commands! In John 15 Jesus talks about how He is the vine and we are the branches:
7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
8 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
I have to admit it. I don’t always walk by the Spirit. I don’t always obey. I war with the flesh and sometimes I give in to temptation. Paul had the same struggle. We ALL do! Here’s Paul in Romans 7:
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
Who will save me from this body of death??? Paul asks. I ask!
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
It’s by the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross on my behalf that I have ultimate victory over the flesh! That is GOOD NEWS! When He returns He will give me a new body. One that is incorruptible! Without sin.
Until then, I struggle. I war with the flesh. Sometimes I fall, but the Holy Spirit gives me the strength to get back up and war some more. Even to have victory over sin. How? By staying close to God which brings the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit! Some versions translate it as, “discipline.” The very thing I need to walk with God in obedience!
So, just like my work outs make me stronger and make me look forward to my next work out, my spiritual discipline bears the fruit of more spiritual discipline!
Strength in my body through the effort of working out. Strength in Christ by knowing Him and allowing Him to live in me by being obedient to His Spirit and not my sinful desires. Both worth working for. The latter with the biggest payoff.
See you on the trail of life. Hopefully I’ll be bearing much fruit so I can encourage you on your journey in Christ as well!