Do you ever look at someone successful and wonder how they did it? Often, we’re tempted to think they just got lucky, they were in the right place at the right time, or they knew the right people. While that may be true in some cases, it’s rarely luck that determines the direction of our lives. Success is rarely by accident. Most of the time our success or failure is the result of countless consistent, seemingly small decisions done over time.
Last week, I shared my disappointment over my current physical condition. I’m out of shape and overweight. I didn’t get here overnight. It was a series of poor dietary decisions and lack of excercise. This bad habit didn’t “happen” to me. I allowed it to happen.
This series has really been kicking my backside. It has been a struggle to get through. It is forcing me to face some of my weaknesses head on. It’s easier to be told what we want to hear. We prefer to bury our weaknesses and shortcomings, ignore them, or rationalize them. But God doesn’t want me to be lazy and undisciplined, so I’ve got some work to do. As the Apostle says in Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” As we have learned, any and all training requires hard choices, discipline, and commitment; and it all begins in our minds.
This is the hardest part of training, the game of and for the mind. Former New York Yankee and Baseball Hall of Fame Catcher Yogi Berra, known for his quirky sayings, described playing baseball this way, “Ninety percent of this game is half mental.” Yeah, I had to read that a couple of times too. Yogi is a trip. It’s been said that sports are 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. But most athletes spend nearly 100 percent of their time refining physical skills, and little to no time working to enhance their mental game. This applies to everything in life. If we want to be what God has created us to be, we have to get in the game. We have to do some soul searching and training.
Last week, we looked at 2 Timothy 3:16-17. In it Paul shares that “All Scripture (The Bible) is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The Bible is many things, part history, poetry, prophecy, and more. It provides comfort, encouragement, and hope. But in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we learn that it is also a training manual. It has all the stuff we need to be ready and fully equipped for whatever God has called us to do.
The Bible is also great weapon in the battle of and for the mind. It can open us up and reveal our true thoughts and motives. We can recognize and face those things that are holding us back.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13 NIV
How many times have we studied the Bible and felt like our spirit was being sliced open and exposed? We may have felt guilty, ashamed, convicted, or uncomfortable about something in our lives. The Bible or word of God sheds light on our dark places, exposing them so that they can be corrected and transformed into who God wants us to be.
Today, we are going to look at another passage of scripture that pushes or challenges us in our training.
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:7-9 NIV
In the Greek, the word for “deceived” also means to be “led astray” or “left wandering or roaming”. The Greek word for “mocked” means to sneer, turn up your nose towards, disdain, hold in contempt, or reject. In this passage, Paul warns us not be fooled into thinking that God, His will, word, or created order is something to mock or make fun of. It’s serious.
Paul follows with the declaration that “A man reaps what he sows”. Our decisions and actions yield a harvest of consequences, both good and bad. We all know that, but passages like this can be tough to swallow. Imagine a preacher pounding on the pulpit, pointing towards the congregation, and raising his voice. “A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction!” It is ominous and foreboding. This is definitely one of those passages that get my attention. We need that. We need a jolt or a challenge sometimes to get us back on track.
For most of us the hardest part of making changes in our lives is when we can’t see immediate results. When it doesn’t come quickly or easily, we give up. This has been a tough study series about discipline, commitment, perseverance, consistency, sowing, and reaping. I’m getting weary just thinking about it.
I have lost 50lbs several times in my life, and unfortunately I’m going to have to do it again. I know what it is going to take, and I’m not looking forward to it. Fad diets don’t work for me. I have to make lifestyle changes for the long haul. I have to start making better decisions. It has already begun. God has used this series to get my attention. Pray that I can stick to it.
I don’t know what “it” is for you, that area in your life that needs attention and training. We all share in the same struggles, so let us encourage one another with the words of the Apostle Paul, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Hang in there and don’t give up!
Bible verses to focus on this week: Galatians 6:7-9; Hosea 10:13; Mark 4:20; 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- Have you ever seen small things lead to big results? What happened?
- Read Galatians 6:7-9. Think about what you’re sowing in life right now. What do you think you’ll reap?
- It’s easy to get discouraged when we don’t see progress fast enough. What’s one way you could encourage yourself to keep going when you don’t see progress immediately?
- Have you recently been tempted to give up on something good God’s called you to do? Share what kind of obstacles you’re facing.
- How could you reach out to God or loved ones for the support you need to keep going?
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Director of Family Ministry and Facility Management