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God, Make Me Want to Eat Healthy

God, Make Me Want to Eat Healthy

If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him. Exodus 23:5

There’ve been many times in my life when I’ve known what’s right, good, and healthy for me, but I’ve simply not felt like doing it. So, I haven’t. For example, I’ve known what I should eat, but that’s not what I’ve wanted to eat. I’ve known that I should be sober, but instead I’ve felt like using drugs. Living in conflict with myself, I’ve gone to God, expecting that he transform my appetite. Make me want broccoli instead of donuts. Make me hate drugs. If you change my appetite, I’ll change my behavior. I’ve known some people who’ve received that miracle. They simply asked God for sobriety and boom – they got it.

If you’re familiar with my writing, you know that I’ve not had that experience. Instead, God taught me that sometimes I’m responsible for behaving in a certain way, even when – or particularly when – I don’t feel like it. If I wanted recovery, I had to do whatever it took to get there, even when I didn’t feel like it. I eventually got my miracle of a changed appetite. I don’t want to use drugs today. But to get to recovery, I had to first behave like I wanted it, even when I felt like using.

Today’s passage represents one of those times – when God established an expectation that I must act a certain way, even if I don’t feel like it. In the narrative, God commanded that even if I know someone hates me, I must be kind to him (or her). The passage doesn’t say I must like that person. He just says that I must treat him well, behaving in a loving manner towards him.

This is anything but natural. When we know someone hates us, it’s our nature to return hate for hate. It feels just and right to respond to malice with malice. God, however, often insists that to follow him, we must choose to act in a manner that is contrary to our feelings or our nature. He may not miraculously and instantly change how we feel about the other person. He doesn’t even insist that we like that person. Still, he expects that we treat them with kindness. That person may be transformed by our kindness, or they may continue to hate us forever. Our behavior isn’t to be shaped by the other person’s behavior, but rather by God, who loved us, even when we were unlovable.

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