I suppose this is a fitting post for a Wednesday. You make the connection.
A rewarding aspect of exercise, for those that actually do it and don’t just say they do, is knowing that you’ve overcome physical discomfort and managed to push to your goal. Enthusiasts might call this “getting over the hump,” or “breaking through the wall.” Inevitably, disappointment flares up when a workout is incomplete due to fatigue or injury, but even more so if, in the moment of seeming peril, you didn’t grit your teeth and just get the job done, ignoring the inclination to give up.
In the context of spiritual health, which is better than physical health, the difference-maker in living to please God, which Christians by default desire, has to do with the attitude of being spiritually minded rather than carnally minded. If you believe that an attribute of the Spirit is self-control, then you will do this: you will put away the flesh, the idea that the body is correct (since when does your body “crave” vegetables or exercise?) and begin to live for God, through the Spirit of Christ that lives in you.
For the addict, to anything (food, substances, pornography), this is a moment-by-moment attitude, not a flippant prayer or hope. We must remind ourselves constantly that “the carnal mind is enmity against God.” Yes, this is very uncomfortable, but to what lengths do you go to “get away with it,” to get one last pleasure cruise away from the eyes of your accountability? Go to the same lengths to get it right for God.
C.S. Lewis once said, “Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already.”
Of course, we understand that this doesn’t “please God” — we can only expect to please Him through active faith — but we know that “who he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son”, so this desire should be innate, a constant pulling like gravity that draws us to be more like Christ, humble and completely conformed to do the will of God. There is no condemnation for those in Christ, but much like shortchanging your workout, it produces great disappointment, and this sensation naturally can only be amended through sincere repentance and a renewed vigor to try at it again.
Are you feeling a little dirty today? You have a chance for renewal, right now. Finish strong — it’ll be worth it.
I encourage you to read this chapter if you need a non-caffeine oriented boost to your day. It’s perhaps the most edifying, uplifting string of verses with a huge crescendo at the end. It’s hard not to utter an audible “amen” upon completing it.