Every morning when I wake up, I ask myself a question. "Am I stronger today than I was yesterday"? The question comes from a wristband I wear that I received from a fitness trainer I really look up to. I received two of these wristbands and decided to give the second one to my dear friend Mike, who also loves to hit the gym. When we first started with this idea, I had the mindset of wanting to grow physically stronger every single day, no matter how small the margin of growth.
Most mornings the answer is yes. If the answer is no, I work especially hard that day to make sure that pattern doesn't continue. Mike and I decided that it would be cool to make it a spiritual challenge as well. Asking ourselves every-morning if we are "Stronger today than we were yesterday" in our walk with Christ.
About a week into this added challenge, I noticed the wristband bringing me more conviction than motivation. Much to my surprise, the answer most mornings to my new question was "eh, not really". But that isn't what really gripped my heart. If I ever felt like I was lacking physically in anyway, I would immediately make changes to my daily routine to fix whatever the problem was. If I was fatigued, I would go to bed earlier. If my weight was down, I would push my workouts. I had no energy, I improved my diet. My passion for fitness was clearly evidenced by my actions throughout each day. I was willing to make changes to my lifestyle in order to grow stronger, even if those changes weren't necessarily fun or convenient in the short term.
I'm sure by now that most of you can see where i'm going with this. My deepest conviction came when I realized that I was not always willing to put the same amount of work into growing spiritually. When I noticed a problem in my heart, instead of taking the necessary steps to fix it, I would make excuses or manipulate some sort of justification. If my thought life struggled, I would tell myself it is impossible to fully control my mind. When I lacked conviction, I decided the sin wasn't that serious of an offense. If I noticed my friendships bringing me down, I thought that I could still be a good influence on them even if they weren't helping me. And the only explanation I had for these excuses was a lack of sincerity in my love for Christ. To top it all off, I had just read through James and remember verses like these...
James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
What a terrifying thought. If my love for Jesus was as strong as my love of self, I would be willing to do what it takes to always grow closer to him. I soon realized that my relationship with Christ was just like any other relationship in life. It isn't something that will just magically grow on it's own and always be strong and beneficial even when I don't put any work into it.
Luckily for me, James also included...