Don't Take The Easy Way

I noticed something in my pursuit of optimal eating and health. Whenever I cheat on my diet plans or skip a work-out my willpower is weaker the next time I am tempted. The good news is that the flip side is also true. When I am mentally tough enough to stick to the program and overcome all my internal excuses I get stronger and more hardened in my resolve to keep pressing forward. Not only that, but I feel great because I made the right choice and I get to enjoy the benefits that come from doing what is best for me. This is a principle that crosses over into all areas of life.

Doing the right thing almost never means doing the easier thing.

There is something inside us humans that is always looking for the easy way out, the path of least resistance. We look for short-cuts, quick fixes and 'hacks' of all sorts that will make us feel good without having to put in the work.

I see this happening a lot in churches with Sunday service attendance, small groups and devotional practices. People start coming and things are going well but then something happens and they miss a week. All sorts of things get in the way. It might be work, sickness, sports, meetings, exhaustion, etc. The reason why people miss or skip doesn't usually matter. The problem is that the discipline of regular attendance and the commitment to make it happen has been broken. Now the next opportunity to miss comes along and it is easier and easier to say yes, reasoning, "I'm make it to church next week."

Weight gain is such a tough deal because the gain happens so slowly that you don't even realize it's happening until your pants no longer fit or your shirt is a little clinger than you like. Like the proverbial story of the frog in boiling water, by the time you identify the fact that you have a weight gain problem it's too late, and now a whole bunch of extra effort has to be put into get yourself right again, much more effort than it takes to simply make the right decisions moment by moment. The same thing happens in your walk with Jesus. Taken by itself the decision to skip church, miss your weekly small group, or push off your SOAP reading to later in the week, might not seem like a big deal, but those actions add up negatively over time and suddenly you wake up much further from Jesus than you ever planned.

No one drifts into a place of health, vibrancy and joyful faith.

It takes hard work and discipline to follow a diet and regularly exercise. You will be tempted to skip or take the easy way out over and over again. And each time you give in you are making it harder and harder on yourself in the long run.

The same is true with your spiritual walk. Following Jesus isn't easy. The concerns and cares of the world will constantly be pulling you away from your devotion. Your spiritual enemy will constantly be trying to isolate your from a family of faith with will be all kinds of seemingly good reasons. And each time you say yes, you will slowly float further and further away from Christ.

Friends, be strong. Be devoted. Fight for what is right and refuse to give in to your desires for what is easiest. Go after the promise of long term benefits instead of short term pleasures. Your joy will be fuller. Your efforts will not be wasted.
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