Are you spiritually fat? Because I was…and I am still working on it…

James 1:19-23

James 1:19-23

I have not worked out in weeks.  My scale hasn’t gone up, but I’ve noticed.  I’m a little mushier, less energetic and more irritable.  Our bodies need exercise–no matter how or what kind, we need it.  Not to be skinny; because Lord knows THAT isn’t happening, nor do I desire to be “skinny”.  I want to be healthy and feel comfortable in my clothes.  But, if I don’t DO it, no one is going to do it for me, and I’ll keep feeling like crap-o-la.  No thank you.  But, with our new adventure of home schooling, my time is far more limited.  Like everything though, what is my priority?  Because if I can’t find 25 minutes to hang out with my frienemy Jillian Michaels, I NEED to make an adjustment in my day.  So I finally did.  I am squeezing in my work out during “recess.”

What a difference that makes.  And, as I was working out, I reflected on my spiritual life.  And there was a time when I was spiritually void and spiritually obese.    I think there are four places we can be: 1. Spiritually void. 2. Spiritually obese. 3. Spiritually fit. and 4. Spiritually skinny. And, as you can guess, being spiritually fit is our best place to be.

Before I came to know the Lord as I do now, I was spiritually void.  I knew nothing of the Bible, knew nothing of Jesus, really, and I only had religion.  Did you know that Jesus is not at all interested in our religion?  I grew up in the Catholic church.  I hated it.  Dreaded EVERY Sunday.  I hated CCD classes.  But, I was forced to go by my parents, so I did.  Now listen–if you are Catholic reading this–don’t get mad at me.  This is kind of like how we can talk bad about our mothers all we want–but if anyone else says something about our Momma–watch out, because them are fighting words.  I was Catholic–so I know all about it and I believe the root of the church was great.  But, too many people got in the way of God’s beautiful Word.  Anyhow, I had a spiritual hole in my heart.  I knew something was missing, but did not realize it until college that it was Jesus–a relationship with Jesus is what I was missing.  I was spiritually VOID.  If you are spiritually void–don’t be any longer.  Seek The One who gives life–and life more abundantly.

I quickly became spiritually obese.  And I was for YEARS!  If your story is anything like mine, then you discovered a whole new life in the Lord and became hungry for His Word and the truth.  Poured yourself into Bible studies and ate up every message on Sunday and possibly Wednesdays too.  That was me–for YEARS.  But, as we worked through the book of James, I was so convicted–in countless ways.  But most of all I realized just how superficial I was and how spiritually fat I was.  I had been stuffing myself full of His Word daily, studying it intensely, but I was sharing it with no one, really, other than my Bible study girls.  James so badly is trying to have us realize that if we really are His, then there will be tangible evidence of it. And the only real evidence of a life sold out to Christ  is by our works.  What are “works”?  It is righteous behavior that conforms to God’s Word—specifically compassion.  Now, please don’t hear that James is opposing faith.  He isn’t.  What he is saying is that our faith can’t just be intellectual, in our heads—void of any commitment to active obedience.  Let us not be mere “hearers” of the Word, getting fatter every Sunday, but pouring it back out into our community in love, as “doers.”

Often times, as new believers we can be fearful that we don’t know enough to serve, etc. That, sweet sister, is the enemy whispering to you to keep your light from shining for all to see.   Do not listen to his lies and step out there and get serving. Don’t be like I was and make excuses…I don’t have enough time, we are too busy. We are all busy. Do you think the people out there living it out for Christ have a life less busy than you and me? Hardly. They are making Christ and sharing His love a PRIORITY.  And we all need to do the same.  There are countless ways to serve – anyone can be a greeter at church, well, maybe not Oscar the Grouch, but any else.  Let us not just donate the cans of food that have been in our pantry for too long once or twice a year and check it off our “good person check list.” Let us talk to our church—and see where there is a need and pray about filling it. I was so desperate to serve after our James study and my church was so full of healthy servants they didn’t have a place for me! Ahhhh! I was so sad—so I went to Saturday church cleaning days with Hannah and we cleaned our church! Let me tell you–we know how to make a water fountain SHINE!  I wanted more, but I took what I could get.  And, that was the start of my spiritual weight loss program.

We want to incorporate more serving into our family life, but for now, my husband and I teach the youth on Wednesday nights, sponsor our Compassion sweetie Vivian and try our hardest to love people with everything we have by ministering to whomever and however we can.  And, for us right now with 5 children ages 8 and under, this is a full load. But, we are looking to pump up a bit by serving in our community once a month. Just like our physical health—there is always room for growth.  I am going to be so bold to say, if you are not serving in some capacity you most likely have to shed a few pounds, spiritually speaking of course.  Do it.  Because chances are, you know your Spirit has been crying to serve for a long time, but you’ve put other things ahead of it.  There is no joy quite like the feeling of loving others when you know they can give you nothing in return.

Jesus told a parable that also illustrates how true faith reveals itself through doing good to others. Here is Matthew 25:31-46.

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.

All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats,

And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;
I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?

When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?

Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?”

And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:

For I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;
I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.”

Then they also will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?”

Then He will answer them, saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”

And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Powerful words spoken by our Savior.  One of the most important lessons I have learned is that God isn’t kidding about what He says in His Word.  Do be careful not to take Scripture out of context and jump to conclusions about anything.  And pretty please do not look to Christians instead of Jesus.  So many people yell “hypocrite” when they see a Christian fall from their view that we are perfect.  We are not!  We are ALL sinners!  We ALL blow it!  Why are people so surprised when we mess up?  We are not trying to fall on our faces–most of us.  We are not trying to misrepresent our Savior Jesus.  But good grief–look to Him and His words–not us, mere humans.  We are not holy.  He is.

Oh, how I long to hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant” when I see my Savior someday face to face. I do not want to hang my head, thinking about all the things I put before His service. Again, this is not a “work your way into heaven thing.” We are saved by His grace ALONE. There is nothing we can do to inherit heaven. Christ did it all. But, if we are claiming to be His followers, there should be tangible evidence of that.

I am hoping that as the years of my life press on, I become more and more spiritually fit. Right now, we have a house full of children who need our time, love and attention. But, I STILL need to make time to serve. I didn’t for a long time, and I regret it. I did not grow up serving—I was served. I want my kids to grow up serving—it is just what we do; not this foreign thing that we have to relearn. I pray I am never spiritually fat ever again. Let’s get out there sisters and tend to the needy, love the hurting and feed the hungry. There are countless ways to do it. Do not stress over which one or which way – just DO IT.

But, as much as we can be spiritually void, obese and fit, we can be spiritually skinny too. And just like being too skinny physically—it is not healthy. This is when we have overcommitted ourselves. Now, if the Lord is calling you to a life like Paul—and ministry is every breath you take and every word you utter—you do it and press on! I am praying for you! But, be careful to heed the Holy Spirit. There are tons of great causes and ministries out there-and they all want you and your time. But, just because something is good, does not mean it is what God has for you to do. Pray about what the Lord would have you do. So many families in ministry struggle and have trouble because they are spiritually skinny. They are unhealthy, pouring out too much, and have lost the balance. It is okay to say no. Make sure you are saying yes to some area of service, but be careful not to say yes to everything.

Press on sweet sisters!!  And get spiritually fit if you are not already!

Blessings Mamas,

Lori