This past Monday, I began a workout program entitled Insanity, taught by professional fitness trainer Shaun T. Let me tell you, it lives up to its name. The warm-up feels like a workout in itself. It’s more than just an exercise routine, it’s a method of torture. Now, I’m not currently in great shape to begin with, but it would make even professional atheletes exhausted. (I can say that because even the instructor admits to feeling tired and weak during certain parts.) It’s really been one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I’ve wanted to cry a couple of times, not from pain, but from the desire to keep going– to do what the people on the screen are doing– and not being able to.
Since this is such an intense program, I expected to have lost a few pounds by the end of the week. After all, this is the hardest I have ever worked out in all of my life, and I’ve had some serious gym partners in the past. And yet, when I got onto the scales Friday, I discovered that I had actually gained about 3 pounds! Wait a minute! This is going the wrong way!!! I tried to tell myself that I had gained muscle and that muscle is denser than fat so it weighed more and yada yada yada, but I couldn’t quite convince myself that was the case. How could this be?
Then I started taking stock of what I had been eating the past week. A couple of Klondike bars, a couple packs of Ramen noodles, some guava pastries and key lime taffies from my job, a couple sodas, movie theater popcorn…. I did eat some healthy things like white meat, fruit, and salad, but I had ingested enough high-calorie foods that it overrode my Insanity. *sniff*
Which means that all the tiredness, soreness, time spent on the workout, etc lost a good bit of its meaning. The whole point was to get me into shape and help me lose weight, but here I am heavier than when I started because I took in more calories than I burned. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about something I learned several years ago in youth group.
My youth pastor did a series during which one of the weeks revolved around the term GIGO: Garbage In –> Garbage Out. He used a few real world examples to illustrate the Scriptural principle that what you put into yourself will eventually come out.
“Everything that is now hidden or secret will eventually be brought to light.” –Mark 4:22
Because what I was putting into my body wasn’t conducive to my health, not only did the first week of the program not have its desired effect, but I also didn’t perform as well as I might have during it. Which is a lot like our spiritual lives. You may have heard the parable of the man who once said, “It’s like I have two dogs fighting inside of me, trying to control what I do.” His friend asked, “Which dog is wining?” He replied, “The one I feed the most.”
In the same way, we have two sides within us fighting for control: the Spirit man, and the flesh man (Romans 7:21-23). The more time we spend feeding the flesh man by watching secular media, listening to secular music, having that extra plate at the buffet, laughing at our friend’s dirty joke, and so on, the more likely we are to fail the next spiritual test that comes our way, because our Spirit man within us is not prepared. On the flip side, the more time we spend in prayer, reading our Bible, fellowshipping with other believers, taking notes during Sunday service, worshipping God (even when we don’t feel like it), the more our Spirit man gets fed and the more likely we are to withstand evil when it tries to overtake us (Ephesians 6:13-18).
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” –1 Peter 5:6-9
But there is a catch. It can’t just be a checklist of do’s and don’ts. You can’t just spend one hour reading the Bible, then another hour watching Two and a Half Men and call it even. Because like with my Insanity routine, if you eat too much junk, it won’t really matter how much exercising you do: you still won’t get the right results. Like Shaun T says in the beginning of the program, it will only work if you actually do it. My mother’s piano instructor told her the same thing when she started learning as a child. “It won’t do you any good to learn the wrong way.” In fact, it may even be worse, because then you have to retrain yourself the right way.
It has to be a matter of the heart. You have to be living the life out of a desire to please God, not out of a promise to your kid to be a better person or an attempt to impress the church people or out of fear of others’ expectations. If you’re not in it for Christ, you aren’t really in it at all. So, you just have to ask yourself: Are you in it?
Is it in you?