Those who know me remember that during the majority of my college career I struggled with obsessive behavior. I had allowed my desire to be strong and fit to dominate my life. Hardly a day went by where I wasn’t either in the gym or doing some type of physical fitness work. I can remember several times where I turned down hanging out with my friends or going to certain events because I actually feared a day without the gym.
I thought one day had the potential to make or break me. If I took a break, I was gaining weight that would be near impossible to lose.
It didn’t take long for my desire to be healthy to develop into a dangerous habit. An obsession.
I scheduled my days around the gym. I would put other things on the back burner to ensure I got, at the very least, forty-five minutes in the gym.
While there is nothing wrong with striving toward physical fitness and strength–in fact, I highly encourage it for everyone–there is something wrong with exalting this to the throne of your heart.
Even now as I work toward rebuilding my strength, the temptation arises to allow this passion and desire to dominate my life and choices, to filter my days through how many calories I burnt and miles I ran.
Now I’m not saying dedication and focus aren’t admirable traits, but they can transition into fatal flaws if we are not intentional about keeping our souls set on the Father. Yes, we honor God when we work hard, but we dishonor Him when we use these traits as excuses for why we aren’t spending time with Him.
“Well, Lord, You know I can’t go to church today. I need to get ahead at work.”
“God, You understand, don’t You? I’ll pray later. I want to make sure I focus in this gym session.”
“I’ll read my Bible some other time. This school assignment is top priority right now.”
While our goals and ambitions aren’t evil in and of themselves, the moment we begin treating these things as gods, we are placing ourselves in a very dangerous, very vulnerable position. We are putting more faith and trust in things that can never satisfy than we are in the One Who Completes.
In Matthew 12:7, Jesus says to the pharisees “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.”
The pharisees were so intent on looking righteous that they had actually shunned redemption. They wanted their outer appearance to shine, but their souls were dark and disfigured.
God would much rather us have an intimate knowledge of who He is than to be obsessive in maintaining the facade of being “churchy”, or a “good Christian”. Christ is not honored in our misplaced priorities or self-righteousness. He is pleased when we love others, when we live in the constant awareness of His unfailing grace and mercy, sharing His goodness with a lost and dying generation.