I find it interesting how one principle can affect many different and unique areas of our lives.
At the start of this summer (I teach during the school year) I decided I was going to be more active. If you think about it, that’s a really vague goal. Being more active is just a broad and shadowy goal. If I spent all my day on the couch watching TV, then one hour less of TV would be being ‘more active.’
My actual goal was to become more healthy. That’s what the real goal was and that goal filters into a bunch of different areas of life. Sure, I may cook healthier, but if I down a bag of potato chips, does that really count? Sure, I may go for a brief 15 minute walk but if I follow that with a frozen hot chocolate, am I really being healthier?
Without specific goals and guidelines, we bend the rules. We’re humans. It’s what we do.
So, with a new, relatively free week before me, I decided to unpack the discipline and actually start being proactive about being healthy. After a 30 minute Pilates workout (ouch!) and a bowl of fresh cantoloupe and Greek yogurt for breakfast, I am off to a good start. But, as I thought about this idea of discipline, I truly thought about how we can approach lust in our lives.
“I want to lust less” is a broad and vague goal. It leaves open the fact that I am still lusting, it’s just less.
That’s not what God desires for us. God desires for us to desire Him- not desire sin less. Naturally, desiring Him more will lead to a lower desire for sin, just like desiring to be more healthy will automatically lead me to be more active.
So set little goals and keep track of every decision. Just like a walk is no good if followed by an ice cream sandwich, a day off the computer is no good if followed by a night in bed daydreaming. The decision to honor and glorify God will impact all areas of your life- from what you think to what you watch. Stepping away from a struggle with lust is no good if you just fill that time envying or being angry.
Set little goals that purposefully draw you toward God. Set times for Bible reading. Pick passages. Grab a Bible study (PS: I highly recommend “Gripped by the Greatness of God”) and work through it- 15 minutes every morning. Think of it as that morning walk, or a fruit and yogurt breakfast. It sets the bar for your day.
This isn’t about waking up with some abstract goal. Abstract goals can’t be reached because they are… abstract. Set a concrete goal and at the end of the day, check your status? Did you do it? Good for you. Did you fall? Why? What led you there? Then put a plan in place to avoid that tomorrow.
Above all, remember this is a daily thing. Just because I spent 30 minutes doing Pilates and ate a good breakfast today does not mean I can go out and run a 5K tomorrow. I want to build a healthy lifestyle, and that means it has to last more than one day. I have to develop the habits of a healthy lifestyle and that takes time.
You want to develop a lifestyle that honors God. You may have done great today. That’s fantastic, but don’t let your guard down. If you want to develop that lifestyle, it has to be a pattern repeated over and over again until it becomes your second nature. Your nature right now is to do anything but. And just like my body is none too happy about a new Pilates routine, your body will be none too happy about being deprived of its comforts and indulgences, but you must persevere. Strength is not developed in one day; it comes with consistency.