Letting Myself Go
Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 2 John 1:8
A couple summers ago, I found myself in need of losing a few pounds. So, I devised an accountability plan, complete with a daily weigh-in chart that I placed on the fridge. I had good intentions of doing this all summer. So, I stepped on the scale daily and recorded my weight on that fridge chart. Several months later, I came across my weigh-in chart. Not surprisingly, I’d only recorded five or six days and then the rest of it was completely blank. What happened? I started out strong with a few days of success. Eventually though, I lost control, eating too much one night, and then didn’t want to weigh in the next day. One failure quickly snowballed into a complete collapse of the plan. So, I just let myself go, abandoning my efforts altogether.
If you talk to those who’ve relapsed into drug use after a period of sobriety, you’ll likely hear a similar story. They once went to treatment, stopped using, and found recovery. They went to meetings, changed their lives, and returned to their faith. They worked on the new life every day. And it worked. Their lives turned around from the disaster of addiction. In their success though, they eventually became complacent. They skipped the weekly meeting. They stopped working daily on recovery and eventually, they drifted back to old friends and behaviors. Then one failure happened and quickly spiraled into a complete collapse of their recovery as they returned to the old life.
Though he wasn’t specifically writing about weight loss or drug addiction, John warned against complacency in today’s passage. In it, he said that we must continually watch ourselves so that we may not lose all that we’ve worked for. We may be saved and forgiven by God, but our response to that salvation must be a daily pursuit of the new life – for the rest of our lives.
As Christians, we’d like to think the old ways are gone and that we just naturally want the new life. While we live on this Earth though, our old nature is still with us. It’s never going to be natural for us to abandon our will for God’s. We’ll always simply drift towards following ourselves. To stay on the right path, we require almost constant course correction. This requires daily effort to point our lives at God, instead of ourselves. If we don’t do this, if we grow complacent, we just naturally drift away. If we desire the new life, we must continually watch ourselves, daily doing whatever it takes to pursue it.