… make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance, and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
2 Peter 1:5-7
Maybe it was due to the fact that this year I will be celebrating a pretty big birthday, namely my 43rd. Possibly it was because, over the past five years I had consistently been putting on a couple pounds here and a couple pounds there (mostly there). Then again it could have been due to my body getting older than I was, or the addition of adult onset acne along with the always-fun if not excessive mood swings.
Most likely though it was a combination of all of these things that made me say, “That’s it, I’ve had it, things are gonna change!”
So as I stood there looking at myself in the mirror the other day, I should not have been surprised at what I saw. After following through with the above statement, and making some major alterations in my thinking and then in my actions, I really did look different and I felt different too.
As I stood there surveying the changes I distinctly heard God whisper, “And it is exactly the same in the Christian walk.” Now what did that mean? The same in the Christian walk, how so? Then it started to make sense as I thought about the changes that I had first made inwardly that brought about different actions and in turn produced the now evident outward changes.
When I was young I never had to worry about my weight, I never even thought about gaining weight, not even when downing a bag of Doritos followed by a pint of my favorite ice cream – Mint Chocolate Chip – for lunch. I had terrible eating habits, but it never showed. Not only were my eating habits bad, I didn’t take good care of my body in general. The problem though was that it was not outwardly obvious and so I was convinced that it didn’t matter. Unfortunately, I continued this course of thinking for decades.
Many times it is the same with our daily walk with the Lord; we deprive our spiritual selves of the necessary vitamins and minerals we require to grow. When we fail to take care of our spiritual needs, it may take awhile but eventually it will take its toll and show outwardly to the world.
When I finally decided that things needed to change, the first change had to be in my thinking. I had to recognize and admit that the way I had been doing things until now, may have worked for awhile but hadn’t been what was best for me. I had to decide on which changes needed to be made. The changes were in what I was consuming and in my exercise or lack of exercise habits. And finally I had to follow through on these changes each day, no matter how I felt or what others said.
We are blessed in our Christian walk to already have the perfect guidance available to us in the Bible. We don’t have to research different spiritual eating and exercise plans, and we’re usually better off not getting advice from friends in this area. We need only go to the Word of God to find the changes we need to make. In the above verse almost every one of the virtues that Peter exhorts us to cultivate in our lives can be compared to those that brought about the changes in my body. So if you’ll indulge me in this analogy a moment longer, lets take a quick look at them:
Goodness – this depicts excellence expressed in deeds, our actions following our decision to make a change. Another way to look at it would be, in order to be filled with all goodness and to overflow with this goodness we are to only consume what is good. Otherwise, garbage in, garbage out.
Knowledge– we need to know the plan we are to follow, and we can only know this by reading, studying, and understanding it. In this case, the plan we need to know is the Bible, God’s Holy Word.Self-control – this is so important, knowing what the right thing to do is and making yourself do it, no matter what you feel, is the key.
Perseverance – you can’t give up, even if you don’t see the desired results immediately, you must stick with it and in time every one will witness the change and have to admit to this plans’ authenticity.
Godliness – this would be a genuine reverence toward God and in the Christian walk this is the true motivation for wanting to change in the first place. Godliness is what helps us recognize the need for change and assists us in humbly admitting this need.
Brotherly Kindness – this is a genuine affection towards other Christians, loving them as much as you love yourself.
Love – this is initially what made me want to make the changes in my physical body, love of self. But in the Christian walk it is love for the new Spirit within us, that is God’s Spirit. We are to love the Lord God with our entire heart, mind, and strength. God is love, and it is His love that is the driving force in our change and also in our desire to see others change as well.
There are many of us in the world who take much better care of physical bodies or even our materials possessions than we do of our walk with the Lord. My Father-in-law who is recently deceased, bless his heart, used to say, “How’s your walk with the Lord?” He wasn’t so much concerned with your job, or your health. He didn’t say, “How are you,” because he knew that wasn’t what really mattered. His intention was always to make you reflect on your relationship with the Creator. And so picking up where he faithfully left off, I ask you today, “How is your walk with the Lord?” It’s never too late to repent and turn from our neglectful ways, our bodies can be forgiving, but even more so is our Awesome God.