Discipline. The word alone is enough to make us cringe. At the start of the second month of a new year, this word might even cause eyes to roll. It is the time of year, after all, when New Year’s resolutions start breaking down and gyms get less crowded.
My husband and I have joked for a few years now that we will be “fit in 20 (fill in the year)!” Until now, we haven’t put our money where our mouth is, so to speak. But this year, we gifted each other with the most romantic Christmas gift possible: an elliptical. So this is it. Fit 2017.
We started the year with a round of Whole 30 for the month of January. It’s a reset of sorts for all of your normal eating habits, where you eat only lean meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and healthy oils. Basically you get really sad after the holiday treat binging, and can’t even have creamer in your coffee since dairy is prohibited. Why would we willingly put ourselves through this, you might ask? Fit 2017.
Additionally, we have watched health documentaries on Netflix. There is no better way to rid yourself of a late night ice-cream craving than by listening to nutritionists tell you the side effects of eating too much sugar and processed food.
In one of the documentaries in particular, I was struck by the words of an overweight man with diabetes. He was in a diner, eating a plate of gravy-covered liver and onions, but his words were profound to me. When asked about the difficulty of being healthy, he said: “I wasn’t surprised to be a diabetic, but it meant I needed to change what I’ve been doing. That’s the hardest part.”
I’ve thought about that statement for days now. To me, it summed up the difficulty I have had with consistent discipline throughout my life, be it physical or spiritual. The hardest part is giving up those old, bad habits and replacing them with new, healthy ones.
As a believer, it is easy to make the spiritual connection with this realization. Scripture is clear that Christians are “new creations.”
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
The life of a Christian is a life of discipline. Discipline is a choice, and living the Christian life is full of choices we must make.
We choose to make time to study God’s word and commune with Him in prayer. We choose to love others as Christ loves us, oftentimes choosing to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. As wives we choose to honor and love our husbands. As mothers we choose to instruct and train our children in the Lord. As keepers of the home we choose to honor the Lord by spending our time wisely, stewarding our money well, including sticking to a budget and not living above our means, and loving our families by serving them in Christlikeness. We even choose not to desire another life or another man. We choose thankfulness for where God has us and the events he gives, both good and bad.
None of these choices are easy on our own, but it is possible to choose obedience no matter the circumstances, with Christ. The Holy Spirit within us is called our Helper for a reason.
This is not some life of legalism we are called to, nor is it similar to the life of a Pharisee in Jesus’ time. The obedience required of true believers stems from a heart of gratitude for the saving work of Christ on our behalf. The goal for believers is becoming more like Christ.
We rest in the finished work of Christ and his grace to us in salvation, and then we act like the new creations we are! We back up our claims of faith with good works and obedience. We choose to walk in the newness of life we were given.
It is easy to be like the man in the diner making unhealthy choices, slowly killing himself with his unwillingness to change. Just like eating junk will negatively affect your health, consuming the things of this world instead of feasting on Christ will shipwreck your faith. Our flesh wants to cling to sin and darkness, yet the new Spirit within us must live in light and obedience.
There is no magic pill that will lose unwanted pounds for you. You cannot be lazy and expect the results of a disciplined life, whether that be physically or spiritually.
You cannot have both. You cannot cling to your sin, yet claim Christ. You cannot habitually walk in disobedience and be a child of God.
The reality is, our lives are made up of choices. Every minute of your day can be lived for the Lord and His glory, but you have to actively work for it. What will you choose this year?
I’m choosing life, both physically and spiritually. I’m committed to putting healthy habits in place for my physical body, but more importantly, I’m committed to a life marked by spiritual discipline. I want to look back on 2017 as a year of personal growth and commitment to my Lord. He gave His all for me, so I’m choosing to live for Him!
*How are you choosing to live more fully this year? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!
(Click here for this free printable of 2 Corinthians 5:17! – formatted for computer download)