The Weight Loss Challenge
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. Revelation 2:2 (NIV)
We recently began a weight loss challenge at our gym. A few of us could benefit from losing 10 or 20 pounds and so, we’re supposed to be keeping each other accountable with a chart on the whiteboard. This inspired me and I was quite disciplined . . . for three or four days. I lost 4 pounds quickly, but then we went to visit my son in college, where we ate pizza all weekend. At work yesterday, I had a donut. Now, I’ve rediscovered a couple of those pounds that I’d lost. Ironically, last night as I was contemplating today’s passage, I asked my wife if she could think of anything I’d committed to, but then abandoned due to lack of discipline. She asked if I really needed her to say it out loud. I’ve done this a thousand times. I’ve committed to weight loss, worked hard for a few days, and then fizzled out, returning to old habits. As it turns out, weight loss is hard work and requires a daily commitment to a different life. Who knew?
I see the same thing working with the addicted. Those who’ve wrecked their lives with drugs want a new life. They hate the old one. They desperately desire to be sober, so they commit to working on recovery. They go to treatment and attend meetings. Eventually though, apathy sets in and the old life calls. Recovery was like a short-term diet and ultimately, they find it’s too much work, so they stop doing what was necessary to stay sober. Then, they relapse and begin the entire cycle of destruction again.
In today’s passage, Jesus commended the Ephesian church for their perseverance. They’d committed to the faith and they’d stuck to it. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary (Revelation 2:3). Faith is hard work and requires a daily commitment to a new life.
I have, at times, missed this principle. I’ve envisioned God’s grace to be a magical wand that makes life easy. In my drug addiction, I wanted God to simply remove the appetite. He wanted me to do the hard work of treatment, confession, and changing my life. Recovery is hard work, requiring a daily commitment to a new life.
Anything in life that is worthwhile requires commitment and perseverance. If I want to be physically fit, I don’t get there in a week. If I want a happy, healthy marriage, it doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the same with our faith. If I desire to be spiritually healthy, I must commit to daily investing in my relationship with God – for the rest of my life.