Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Attitude, The Action, and The Choice ...

Let's use parts of two true stories to learn a greater truth.

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The Attitude

I once provided personal training at a gym for a guy I'll call Mark (not his real name). Mark was in his early forties and had made millions as co-owner of a successful, small, international business.

Mark wanted to get back to peak fitness. He admitted a routine indulgence with smoking pot, but he thought he was experiencing negative physical results of his drug use. He wanted to get clean, get fit, and be at his physical best. Mark had good personal self-discipline when he wanted to apply it; it was his ability to focus and be disciplined that made his business successful.

But he had a different attitude toward his workouts.

When it came to achieving his fitness goals, Mark drug his feet even though he didn't have to. He had good core strength and, although I pushed him to his physical limits, he was able to handle the workouts I dished out for him.

But throughout my time training him, I had to push him all the way. He could have reached his fitness goals much more quickly and easily than he did. He simply didn't want to at that time. His attitude was he knew he could reach his goal, but he was going to take his time getting to it. He was going to milk eating however he wanted, doing whatever he wanted, and using his favorite drug whenever he wanted for as long as he could before he finally had to succumb to the full measure of self-control necessary to reach his fitness goals.

*****

The Action

At the high school I attended was a cheerleader who had set a personal goal of having sex with every member of the varsity football team.

By all reports, she succeeded at achieving her goal.

Whenever one of the football players wanted some "action," they knew who to call.

*****

These two stories highlight elements that make up the experiences of many Christians today.

Many Christians adopt "The Attitude" Mark showed in his workouts. They set a "stated" goal of being obedient to Christ, but maintain an attitude of growing at their own pace. They milk their time attached to their old sins for as long as they possibly can. They could achieve their objective much more quickly and easily than they do, but they really don't want to. They justify and rationalize that spiritual maturing takes time, and they're going to take plenty of it before they really cut loose of their pet sins and "have to" face what it means to live a holy life.

Some Christians adopt "The Action" of the cheerleader.

Imagine this cheerleader, now out of high school and married. She gets a call one evening. It's one of the football players she went to high school with; he's in town for a couple of days and wants to get together. This cheerleader, now a bride, says to her groom that she will be spending the night with the former football player.

When the groom responds with protests, she reminds him that before they met she routinely did such things with many of the varsity team members, it was just a part of her life, and she would be back the next morning. Or at least within the next few days. But she would be back.

The Greater Lesson

Yes, none of us are perfect. Yes, God will work at transforming us into the likeness of Christ over our lifetimes. But those realities are not a basis for justifying the prolonging of sin in our lives. God has already given us a position of right standing while we work that out practically. Hebrews 10:14 puts it this way:

"For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy."

The Apostle Paul wrote the following in Romans 6:17-18:

"17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. 18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living."

Because Jesus Christ has completely and utterly set us free from sin, turning back to it is a choice. The devil doesn't make us do it. It's not something beyond our control. It's like the bride (cheerleader) saying to the groom she's going to cheat for a while ... but she'll be back.

It's like that because we, as Christians making up the Church, are the bride to Christ. To routinely choose to continually prolonging and playing with sin is to say to the Groom --- in this case, Jesus Christ --- that we're going to cheat on Him for a while, but we'll be back.

We want to milk our desires of the flesh for as long as possible.

That's how serious, how real, a relationship with Jesus Christ really is.

*****
What's your attitude toward obeying God? Toward pursuing a holy life in Christ? How are you applying self-control toward attaining spiritual maturity?

Paul wrote, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline," 2 Timothy 1:7.

What action are you taking to remain free from sin and growing as a disciple of Christ and child of God? Do you see cheating as an ongoing part of your life, or something you do not practice?

What's your choice?

Scotty

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