Since this blog is dedicated to "finishing well" it'd be fair to think I'm all about striving for rewards and finish lines. And I am. What does it matter if you start strong but finish poorly? However, there is value in doing good for goodness sake.
This post was written for a weight loss blog, so it's not as churchy as other posts but the message stands. Hope it encourages you. Let me know what you think!
Weight loss is easy—said no one, ever. It takes a plan, discipline and endurance. It takes a real commitment to future glory while eschewing immediate gratification. It’s tough and once achieved, it’s valuable. Even more so when it’s sustainable.
The desire to lose weight/make healthier food choices/fit into favorite jeans/look good on a beach/ reduce medication is as common as a Honda Odyssey in a school drop-off line—so why do so many people struggle to make better choices when they know it’ll get them where they long to be?
The answers are varied and nuanced but one thing I’ve seen—and it applies as much to weight loss goals as financial, relational or spiritual goals—is that most times, all people really want is the reward.
We seek to be debt free but make another Target run. We desire more connection with our spouse but choose not to be kind when we’re in a mood. We want to discern the voice of God but find Facebook more appealing than putting our faces in the Bible. We want healthy, fit bodies but have no desire to modify our food choices—forever and change the way we move—daily.
We want the reward—not the lifestyle.
Since that’s not working for most of us--let’s flip the script. Big life changes often originate with subtle shifts in our beliefs. Your circumstance doesn’t necessarily change but how you interpret your environment does—and that can make all the difference.
My encouragement: Seek the lifestyle—not the reward!
Don’t wish for a great marriage—aspire to be kind to your spouse daily. Don’t wait for a spiritual awakening—wake up and pray. If you need to save money it’s probably a good idea to miss (the) Target too. And when it comes to weight loss, resist the urge to allow three numbers to validate your existence. Instead pursue leafy greens and colorful produce that make you feel alive. Learn to cook great meals. Run so fast your heart feels like it’ll beat right out of your chest. Lift weights. Stand on your hands. Try a new workout.
It’s okay to feel.
To feel alive is at times to be unsure and awkward—especially when learning a new skill. The style of life you live is more enduring than the handful of days that goals are met and rewards are doled out. Love the lifestyle first.
Determine a plan and stick with it—not for any idealized reward but because it’s the right thing to do. Course correct when adjustments are needed. Hold yourself accountable—while be gracious.
We are what we love and when we live from this perspective, we see the reward isn’t an end in itself. Instead, it’s an external manifestation of an inward conviction. It’s an encourager to say, “Hey! We’re making progress. Keep at it!”
And when the reward doesn’t present as quickly as we hoped—we can be disappointed but not dissuaded. It wasn’t our main objective anyway.
Save your money.
Invest in relationships.
Take care of your body.
Replenish your soul.
What greater reward is there than a style of life that reflects this kind of light?
It’s not three numbers on the scale that prove your value (or lack thereof) but a life lived from a place of love—where you’re valuable and other people are too.
Of course, the irony is when you pursue a gracious, disciplined, healthful lifestyle—rewards are inevitable. We’re often told to ‘live in the moment’ but I’m encouraging to live for the season. The things of the earth take time.
Be patient and wait for what you want. It's the lifestyle that's the true reward.
“…whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11
I wrestled with this. I can do nothing apart from you Lord—doesn’t that mean all I do is with strength you supply? In one sense all activity is sustained by the continuous power of Christ: from prayer to powerlifting, Bible study to bathroom scrubbing, work to home and back again.
So why the distinction?
Audible answers to life’s riddles aren’t the only or main way truth is revealed. God’s Word is the key to unlocking knowledge and understanding. Wisdom calls in the streets—her pitch inaudible to untrained hears. So give us truth! Eyes to see. Ears to hear. Hearts to love.
Because false strength can empower life. Counterfeit courage. Spurious spirituality. Make-believe beliefs.
So how can we know we’re in step with the Spirit and not just given to passion or sparkly ideas that aren’t validated by the Word of God?
Here’s eight observations about the supernatural strength God supplies.
The message is clear, while believers are empowered by the Spirit of God to do great things in love, the privilege of what we’ll accomplish, how we’ll do it and even how long we’ll be used in a certain capacity belongs to God alone. He certainly doesn’t need us—but oh how we need him!
His condescension—willingly lowering himself, is so good and so true. Our response can only be to love in return offering our lives as living sacrifices. We are limited, dependent, insecure, prone to arrogance and cowardice and still Christ joyfully transforms our broken pieces by his broken body into shalom or wholeness.
Serve with the strength God supplies so in all things God will be glorified through Christ, always.
"Lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles and run with endurance the race set before you. "