How many of us ever really pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness? This is Paul’s admonition to us in 1 Timothy 6:11, “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”
Have we ever dealt with hearts that grumble and become critical when things don’t go our way? Do we tell others that this is just our personality or the result of growing up in a house of angry people?
Have we tried to eat healthier making home-cooked meals thinking we were going to lose weight only to give up concluding that nothing works? It might be that we are trying to make good food choices and something happens and almost without realizing it we are eating to feel better emotionally.
Richard Rolle in his book, The English Writings, encourages us with some wise words of encouragement, “Every just man fights immorality and physical desires throughout his life; bad men do not fight at all except against God… They make a truce with sin.” We must learn arm up with some better tools for fighting against our own nature.
Our belief that all things are possible through Christ cannot be formed by our experience. Even though we try and fail, we must answer Scripture’s call and keep pursuing godliness. When it comes to our exercise and eating habits it is going to be a lifelong pursuit to keep doing the right thing. It is as Gary Thomas says in his book, Every Body Matters, “…some sins are extremely difficult to get rid of, and on some level, we will be tempted by certain personally familiar sins until the day we die. We can rise above being enslaved by them, but we can never rise above being enticed by them.”
Can we tend to think we can be instantly cured and never face the temptation again? The text of I Timothy 6:11 wouldn’t be calling us to endurance if God freed us instantly from all temptation. We must actively pursue righteousness.
We start by remembering our failings and asking God to use the memories to fortify us against failing in the future. We need to think back on our failings and reexamine the deceit so we can begin to comprehend how we were deceived. Next we guard our hearts and minds with God’s truth so we don’t get fooled again.
It will be important for us to consider what was happening when we failed. Do we see some common patterns of feeling tired, lonely, fearful, or frustrated? We might need to anticipate these circumstances and be prepared before they happen again.
It will be helpful for us to let our sins tell us what we are when we sin. Are we lazy, lonely, or fearful people? We must reclaim who God called us to be and not let it steal our identity as chosen children of God.
The next step will be to analyze how strong a grip this sin has on our hearts. Is it growing in power and becoming a habit too difficult to change? Be honest, be vigilant, and get help if necessary.
Think about healthy, wise, and God honoring alternatives for the sin patterns. If spur-of-the- moment comfort eating is the problem then, it would be wise to make sure eating is planned and structured so it does not have control over us.
We need to fight sin with the tools God gives and fortify our souls with spiritual disciplines that enrich our hearts, minds, and souls. We will not find quick fixes. We must set goals, build up our spirits, and persevere. Our God’s promise is to give us strength to persevere even in the face of failures. Physical training can have great reward, but a life of spiritual discipline has the greater reward of holy lives of character and love.