At every point in life, we can find grace from God to do the right thing or go our own way and do the wrong.
If we do the right, we often feel worse for a while before we get the REWARD. If you exercise,the next day you feel pain, if you diet you feel hungry, if you confront a troubled situation you feel tense and wonder if you have done the right thing. It is right to examine yourself ,to ask for feedback, and convince the other person that you really want feedback, to reward any feedback others give; but then, you will be pained by seeing how messed up you really are.
BUT THEN COMES THE REWARD.
How do we hang in there till we get the REWARD?
Take something simple such as exercise, the preprogrammed part of our brain is saying: ” You’ve tried before and quit, wasted time and money on gym membership or bought a treadmill, exercised a bit and quit, looking foolish and undisciplined to yourself and your friends. You’ll just try for a while and then give up, so why even start?”
Now, you can get all pollyanish and say to yourself,”this time I’ll be fine” but the preprogrammed part of you brain will trump the good intentions unless you answer it’s objections.
What will be different this time? How will you make it more enjoyable and fit it into your schedule and get enough support so that it will work.
I remember a family where the husband had abandoned his wife to shack up with another woman then had felt guilty enough to return to his wife who took him back without evidence of change. Their pastor was thrilled and became irritated with me at the prayer breakfast where I asked, “but what has changed? Won’t they just go back to their old ways, remind themselves of why the marriage fell apart and then blast apart permanently?” He decided that I was not trusting in the power of God enough. Still I had not heard of any point at which God was being allowed to work, except for the Genie Magic of abra cadabra there you are fixed without any humility or confession or accountability. Sure enough, three months later they came into my office to see the “Christian shrink” so that when they got the divorce they had decided on they could pretend that they had done all they could.
The “negative” part of your brain,objecting to your easy fix, is not trying to keep you from exercising etc. but to force you to be practical and do things God’s way: the only way that could work.
The pre-programmed part of you also points out that “you really like your sin and see the promised reward as not desirable enough to be worth the pain and effort.”
We need to ask ourselves, “what fruit had you then in our sinful ways?” We need to beg God to teach us to HATE THE SIN (take inventory of past damages and the consequences of continuing on the same path). We need to ask him to help us HUNGER FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS (picturing all his promises that he WILL deliver). Let us so run the race keeping our eye fixed on the prize. God says that, far from his rewards being not worth the effort, no one out-gives him! His rewards are pressed down heaped up shaken together and running over. Rewards such as: The very character and likeness of Christ, the chance to bring glory to God, blessing to those around you and inner peace. My pastor was sharing how he has learned to SAVOR the peaceful knowledge that he is right with God, that lets him lay himself down to sleep in peace. Then when tempted to compromise for brief relief or pleasure he keeps his eye on being able to SAVOR the peace that night, thus finding grace to resist.
Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith who FOR THE HOPE THAT WAS SET BEFORE HIM endured so much.
There are short term rewards we need to SAVOR NOW and also long term ones such as seeing our savior with joy and hearing those amazing words, “WELL DONE THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT!”
To resist current temptation KEEP YOUR EYE and heart focused on and thrilling in the REWARD.