By Stefanie Boyles
Staff Writer for The Daily Grace Co.
I was jogging on our dusty treadmill the other day. It had accumulated dust because it’s in our garage, and it hadn’t been used for months aside from being a flat surface for a tower of boxes. But alas, I decided to finally take 20 minutes that random day to exercise. It was nearing the end of January, so I didn’t feel the motivation that naturally comes with the turn of a new year. Instead, I was pushed by a renewed desire to glorify God by stewarding my body well. As I was jogging, I even prayed, “God, help me to glorify you in the way I exercise. And help me to glorify you in how I eat, too!” It was a confession of sorts. I knew I had the tendency to diet and exercise for self-gain (to lose a certain number of pounds to look and feel a certain way). I knew I had the drive to achieve such short-term goals. But this time, I wanted it to be different. Sure, I had a few extra pounds to shed, but I didn’t want to be so short-sighted in this area of my life. I wanted it to be a lifestyle fueled by my ultimate desire to glorify God and serve others.
Not long after my prayer, a thought crossed my mind: “Am I over spiritualizing things?”
Growing up around people who leaned heavily on dreams and feelings, I have personally developed a heightened sense of caution about attaching spiritual meaning to certain things. If anything, I don’t trust my own feelings! I know that I am often overly emotional. My assessment of certain situations can be clouded by my tendency to be overly sensitive. This is why I have committed to training my mind to focus on the unchanging truths of who God is above everything else. And this is why I try not say things like, “Why is this happening to me?” or “Get back, Satan”. When things go wrong, instead of blaming the enemy or diving into self-pity, I ask myself, ““How is this an opportunity to grow in Christlikeness?” Do I believe He truly does work all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28)? If He is glorified through this, shouldn’t I rejoice?
Now, I don’t do this perfectly. I have plenty of pity-parties and adult temper tantrums. However, it’s an effort to see everything in my life through a gospel lens. And as I continued jogging, I came to the following conclusion. When you understand that the gospel changes everything, you can’t help but begin to look at everything through a gospel lens. You strive to apply the gospel to every aspect of your life. The gospel isn’t just a means to get to heaven. It’s not a Sunday morning sermon topic. The point isn’t even that it leads to a holy to-do list to be a “good” Christian. The gospel simply becomes the framework through which you see and qualify everything. It’s the filter that colors your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. It’s not behavior modification that you will upon yourself but a transformation that you’re gifted. When your eyes are opened to the truth of the gospel and you put your faith in Christ, you are not the same.
You are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Your heart of stone is now a heart of flesh (Exodus 36:26).
You are alive (Ephesians 2:5).
You are washed and sanctified (1 Corinthians 6:11).
You are a daughter of God (Galatians 3:26).
You are a saint (Philippians 4:21).
How could you stay the same? In Christ, you are justified by His grace (Romans 3:24). You are dead to sin and alive to God (Romans 6:11). You are called to a holy calling (2 Timothy 1:9). If these truths are real, then how could we stay the same? Honestly, if we have truly put our faith in Christ by the grace of God, we simply can’t! But this doesn’t mean we are sanctified with a snap of the finger. Our sinful bents remain. However, the power of the those very sins in our lives are broken. We have the indwelling Spirit empowering us to say ‘no’ to the old and ‘yes’ to the new. We are invited into a rhythm of confession and repentance. We are invited to yield to His perfect will and obey. It isn’t easy because our flesh remains unredeemed, but in the midst of the tension, we experience joy. We experience abundant life because the gospel gloriously changes everything. He is glorious.