Daily Spiritual Exercise

Daily Spiritual Exercise

Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. Many who are first will be last, and the last first. Matthew 19:29-30

The gym is always a good place to get a clear view of my two appetites. On the one hand, while I’m gasping for breath, all I want to do is stop, sit down, and eat a donut. I don’t though. Why? Because I have another desire as well. I also want to be in shape. I know that quitting would make me feel good this second, but I want to feel good tomorrow. If I quit and eat junk food, I’ll surrender the thing I truly wanted for the thing I simply wanted at the moment. Immediate gratification is fleeting, with a debt to be paid later. Delayed gratification is the opposite, requiring sacrifice up front, with a lasting reward after.

For most of us though, it’s simply our nature to follow our now-appetite. In today’s passage, Jesus addresses this inherent tendency to pursue ourselves, insisting that his way is completely upside down from ours. He said that to truly find eternal life in God we must be willing to put him ahead of anything else. Though it’s normal to pursue our appetite above all, Christ said that we must abandon our now-desires in exchange for authentic life.

This is very much like the gym. If I want to know the joy of being in shape, I must make daily sacrifices and I must exercise. If I want to grow spiritually, finding faith, transformation, and recovery, I must likewise, daily sacrifice my way while seeking God’s.

We understand this at the gym, but many of us have spent years of our lives not applying it to our spiritual lives. We believe rightly that we were saved by grace – that we could not earn God’s love – so, we errantly believe that we now sit back and do nothing. Jesus though, insists that the only appropriate response to his love, is to abandon ourselves to follow him (Luke 9:23).

This is not a one-time decision we made years ago. This is something we do daily. If we want to grow spiritually, knowing life here and now, we must, just like at the gym, get our daily spiritual exercise.

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