Killing My Defects
Galatians 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
I must have been eight or ten years old when I found myself overweight the day before a wrestling weigh-in. I hoped to be in one weight class, but I was a half-pound heavy with less than a day to go. I knew if I ate light, I would be fine. That night, my family was invited to a social event where there were dozens of donuts, just sitting around. I fought the good fight for perhaps 10 minutes but eventually, my self-control collapsed and I ate no less than four donuts. Needless to say, I missed my targeted weight class.
Fast forward three decades, and I still carry the same defect. I would like to claim that I have grown up, but donuts still tempt me. Though I have excluded sugar and simple carbohydrates from my diet, that box of donuts sitting at work still calls my name. I have begun to learn though, through my addictions, what it means to crucify the desires of the flesh.
Paul, in today’s passage, said that as followers of Christ, we are to crucify the flesh nature. This phrase, used several times by Paul, is similar to Christ’s call to deny self, and take up our crosses daily. As follower of Christ, we are to kill, not our literal bodies, but the destructive desires of our flesh.
What does that mean? How does it work? The crucifixion of defects will look different for different people and different defects. All I can tell you is what it has looked like in my life.
With my thought life, I have learned I must continually choose to stop putting garbage into my brain. I have had to discipline myself to run every thought through the filter of Christ. I do not do it perfectly, but picking a bible verse a day to meditate on, has radically changed my thought patterns.
With my drug addiction, I could not stop until it was dragged into the light. I had to go to treatment and leave my job. I had to radically change my life to cut out activities that contribute to drug use and I had to embrace activities that are consistent with sobriety. I continue to work at killing my addictive nature as I do not ever wish it to return.
With food, the crucifixion has been a little less dramatic. I did not go to treatment, but I did meet with others who knew how to eat right. I made a long-term commitment to significant changes and then implemented structure that supported those changes. Eating right takes a fair amount of planning and purposeful behavior. As donuts will always taste good, I will always need to work on this one.
As Christians, we tend to think that change comes about magically, just by praying for it. We do not have to work at it. We are Christians, God does it for us, right? While some may be miraculously delivered from specific destructive appetites, I think most of us find that Christ’s command to deny and crucify self, means sacrifice and hard work. Our responsibility is to always do whatever it takes to abandon our destructive behavior and follow God. God will always respond to our seeking, filling us with himself.
If I want to live free from slavery to donuts or drugs, I must daily, commit to doing whatever it takes to leave them behind. In denying self and pursuing God, I find that my deepest needs and appetites are satisfied only in him.