Getting in Shape
As Christ-followers, we are called to holy living.
The problem is that we want to do one thing and, too often, we do another (Rom. 7:15). We are “out of shape” spiritually, without the inner strength to assert our will.
Any regimen for volitional strength-building must take personal tendencies into account. At certain times of the day our willpower is likely weaker. New or difficult tasks may drain mental energy. Emotional reserves can be depleted when we are in conflict, anxious, or in a hurry.
By a healthy lifestyle, we can replenish the spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional energy needed for self-control. We can set aside time for Bible reading and prayer. We can get enough sleep. We can eat in healthy ways. We can build relaxation and rest into our schedule.
Like physical conditioning, we can strengthen our willpower by exercise. To begin, we can segment a desired virtue into small, component behaviors. We can practice one manageable behavior until it becomes a habit. As we add other small behaviors, one at a time, our volitional strength develops until we are capable of all the behaviors that comprise a “big” virtue.
As we “make every effort” to supplement our faith with virtue (2 Pet. 1:5-7), God is working to motivate and strengthen us (Phil. 2:13) and self-control is developing as a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23).
We are getting in shape to overcome temptation, endure setbacks, and persevere through hardship.
Insights for this post are drawn from an article by Bradley Wright
in Christianity Today (May 2017), “Can you Control Yourself?”