It is ironic, isn’t it? Yesterday’s lesson was about pursuing pleasure for all I am worth! Pleasure in the Lord, that is…true soul satisfying pleasure! That lesson was fun to write about as I know that the Lord truly does “deliver!”
Today’s lesson is a reminder that this road–LIFE–will be filled with suffering. In fact, I am called to suffer. Eek! Who likes to be reminded of that! The focus passage for the lesson is below though the author uses a different translation:
I don’t know about you, but any time I deny myself what I want, that is SUFFERING to me! Seriously…if I want something, how often do I tend to say no to myself about it? For years, I have taught my kids that they have to restrain their desires. As little toddlers, they couldn’t grab food off of shelves at the supermarket or take the toy they wanted and play with it in the aisle at ToysRUs (for instance). They couldn’t hit a playmate when the desire came along. They had to say NO to themselves or they would have ME saying NO to them in a big way. We simply can’t have everything we want!
Why do I hold my kids to a higher standard of behavior–a more rigid expectation that they will learn to deny themselves–than I hold myself?!
I seem to expect less of myself in this area than I do of my kids!
“No, you can’t have another hour of ‘screen time’–you already get two hours on the computer each day.”
“No, you can only have one soda…you don’t need another one…” and so on.
Meanwhile, they aren’t idiots. They see the inconsistencies between how I train them and how I live. They think becoming an adult is when you no longer have to say NO to your self! That is what I have taught them!
Jesus suffered in His body so that I literally would not *have* to sin. I could be free from idolatry, from greed, from gluttony…from any sin (and the accompanying shame). He did this so I could literally have the freedom to say no to sin.
Likewise, I am called to do my share of “suffering.” To say no to self.
I don’t believe this passage teaches that we can live a totally 100% sanctified “holy” life practically on this earth. For me, I see it as a moment-by-moment struggle: he who has suffered in his body is done with sin–to ME this is in the moment. In THIS moment, if I choose to say NO to my fleshly desires (for food when I am not hungry, for instance) I suffer…maybe not physically so much, but I am so used to having my way, that a part of me emotionally feels let down. I have a temper tantrum of sorts. As I push through this moment, I will come out the other side of the temptation “done with sin.” In that moment, I am done with it.
What is my motivation to say no to the flesh? To suffer? Is it so I can have “body beautiful” and get lots of praise and encouragement? No. It is so that I can do the will of God, as mentioned in verse 2. What is so cool about this, is it goes back to the truth taught in Day 36…God nourishes His people. When? When we know his will and DO it!
So, it is clear here…it is HIS will that I suffer by saying no to my fleshly desires. As I do this moment-by-moment, he nourishes my SOUL. He sustains, He provides, He empowers…how cool is that?
What do you need to say no to your flesh about today?