The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Patching Cracks

 

August 19, 2020



My brother lives in Northern California. For the last 6 months, he and his family have been living with some of the strictest lockdown regulations in the country. My little brother is very active and a bit of a gym nut. The lockdown has eliminated his ability to go to the gym at all, though he maintained his membership for some time. For several months, he was able to proudly say “I am a member of a gym,” but was not able to go to it. Over the years, I’ve known a few people who had gym memberships, but never went. There’s a strange truth about gym memberships: they do you very little good if you don’t actually go. The same is true of treadmills. I have several friends who jokingly refer to their exercise equipment as their coatrack. If a treadmill isn’t used, it isn’t very effective. Simple ownership or membership do not make you fitter. This truth is not limited to fitness equipment. I have a great book on life-coaching. It is one of the best reviewed books on the subject available today. I have been meaning to read it for years, but it keeps falling off of my “do it today” list. That book isn’t doing me much good, and won’t until I actually sit down and read it. Books are wonderful tools, but aren’t all that useful without actually reading them. This may seem like a simple concept, but it’s one we often don’t apply to the most important aspect of our selves: our souls. Many of us have significant knowledge about how we should live and what is right or wrong, but the application is difficult. When I was younger, I attended church regularly, but often failed to live out important aspects of what I believe. I knew I was supposed to forgive people and not stew in my anger over the ways I had been wronged. I did it anyway and became a bitter person as a result. Knowing about the importance of forgiveness was useless because I rarely did it. I knew that scriptures spoke regularly about the importance of honesty in how we talk, but I often lied when it was easier than telling the truth. My knowledge was useless without me doing something. Most importantly, I knew that Jesus died to secure forgiveness for my sins, but I rarely lived my life as though that was true. I prayed for forgiveness, but rarely tried to live like Jesus. My belief was useless because I didn’t live it out. Fortunately, God eventually woke me up, and I began to live out what I believed. Spiritual health and growth only happen as a result of putting faith into action. It’s not just about doing the stuff that is on the “do and don’t list.” It’s about developing a relationship with God and growing in it. The do and don’t list is really just an extension of the relationship. In fact, Jesus taught that following the Ten Commandments with your actions, but breaking them in your heart is like breaking them anyway. You must grown in your spirit and live it out in your actions to keep the treadmill for your soul from becoming “just a coatrack.” There are all sorts of ways to grow spiritually. Relationships of accountability are an important part of that. I can’t live like I used to, because I am surrounded by people who would call me out if I was faking it outwardly. These relationships are designed to happen in church communities. Another way to shift from the spiritual coatrack mentality is to regularly consume teaching that pushes us to examine our own lives against God’s word. This convicts us into action. Spiritual life requires that we actually live it.

 
 

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