I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
It was time for my annual fake commitment. The new year had begun, and I decided to get in shape for the 15th time. I took advantage of the holiday deals and joined the gym with all the bells and whistles. I also decided to upgrade my gear because making a bigger financial investment in this journey might motivate me to stick with it this time. What I found, however, was that I would make the same mistake once again. I fell for the illusion that being a member of that facility and walking in there regularly dressed for a killer workout would mean that the results were sure to come. The problem was that my workouts were not that intense, and my lifestyle outside the gym practically nullified all my gains. It was not enough for me to join the club and look the part if I was not willing to put in the real work.
Scripture compares our Christian life to a race that must be run with endurance. Anyone who has raced competitively can tell you that there is a lot of training, a lot of work that goes into a single event. When race day comes, all of that preparation is not sufficient to win unless the final part of the work is done that day. No one can expect that the prize will be handed over without first having put in the work and the strong performance when it counts. That is one of the great paradoxes of this faith, that we would receive such an amazing free gift yet there is much that is required of us. We ask God to transform us and lead us from temptation, but that does not mean that we then sit back and wait for that prayer to be answered. If our hearts are truly in line with his, we will take on the challenge of denying ourselves and work with him for the result to come.
Intentional Christianity tells us that we make a point to walk in a manner that is worthy of the calling God has placed on our lives. We do not ask God to pull us up out of our sin while we also take steps to keep ourselves there. We must be proactive in taking up the battle as well. Joining God’s army is the best decision we can make, but the swords will not swing themselves. God gives us the strength and the power to be victorious in all things, but first we must engage the task. If we are sincere in our pleading for God to increase our patience, humility and love, that will be evident by how we also take steps to walk in those attributes instead of waiting for them to simply manifest. Father, make us not only hearers of the word but also doers of the word, that we would be intentional about making sure we walk in a way that honors You.