“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)
In this passage Paul urges us to keep ourselves spiritually fit. He stresses the necessity of self-discipline and the danger of flaunting one’s liberties. The believer must practice self- denial and self-control. In Matthew Henry’s commentary he says, “The body must be made to serve the mind, not suffered to lord over it.”
This past Sunday morning I awoke at 3:30 a.m. with this passage front and center of my mind. It was one of those times the Lord impressed upon me to get up and get before him. And so I grabbed my coffee, bible and journal and headed to the living room where I sat for the next three hours as the Lord showed me the seriousness of my choice to waiver between obedience and disobedience where the sin of gluttony is concerned.
In Chapter 8 of Hunger Within we read of the “Holy Struggle” we are faced with. And we’re reminded that “this choice of putting off and putting on is one we will face daily throughout our life because we will always have areas where we are tempted.” Earlier in this chapter we read, “Our hunger within has at its core a demand that our needs be met. To those of us who struggle with food, eating, and weight, this hunger – even though it has no physical basis – insists that we be fed. When we acknowledge our hunger within, we often seek food to satisfy our unmet needs. This is the essence of addictive behavior – turning to the quick fix when our emotions are high, when the pain is throbbing.” So when God says, “Wait” or “Be patient, I am feeding you,” often our response is, “Well, great, but it’s not what I ordered.” We struggle against God’s request for patience because everything in us is clamoring, “No!” This hunger doesn’t feel good. It hurts and I want to feel better right now! Feed it!” The chapter goes on to state this sobering truth, “At the heart of our flesh patterns is the sin of idolatry. We think God is not good and will not give us the desires of our heart, so instead of cultivating our interior life with God, we look for life elsewhere by seeking external pleasures.”
For those of us who have been with Thin Within for any length of time, and/or have been given to spiritual growth over a long period of time there comes a point when we are simply called to put into practice what we’ve learned and stop subjecting our behavior to the mental lies we choose to embrace. It’s as if the Lord says, “Enough already! It’s time to practice what you preach more often than vacillating.” This is especially important if you want to share the Thin Within message with others, particularly by example. Paul deeply valued being qualified for service to the Lord and to those the Lord called him to impact. Therefore, the issue of self-discipline, self-denial, self-control, etc. was paramount within his personal constitution. It was not a matter of personal preference but obedience to the One who called him to serve, the One he loved more than anything or anyone else, including himself.
Folks, our lives are no different. We’re either committed to walking out obedience as best we know how, day-in and day-out, or we’re not. And there comes a point when the Lord has enough of letting us live our own way. And so he gives a strong warning, an opportunity to change course. That’s what I sensed he gave me Sunday morning. It’s a type of warning he’s given me before when I was walking defiant of his truth and his way. They are not warnings you forget, nor do you want to.
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. You will find me when you seek me, if you look for me in earnest. Yes, says the Lord, I will be found by you, and I will end your slavery and restore your fortunes …”. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
What about you? Is your body lording over your mind? Or is your body living in subjection to the truth? Do you vacillate on any given day, between whether or not you’ll choose to walk in obedience or disobedience? Do you believe God has a good plan for you? Choose Jesus today and embrace denying your “hunger within” as you submit yourself to the One who loves you and wants the very best for you. And trust that he will satisfy you.