I recently attended a seminar led by futurist Matt Thornhill, of the Institute of Tomorrow.
One of the things he shared which captured my attention was a premise that tomorrow is made up of today’s choices; therefore we shape tomorrow by the choices we make today.
By way of illustration, think of your transformation from being out of shape and overweight into getting back in shape and near to healthy weight. The idea or dream is perhaps the starting point to a new “you,” but many days and many consistent, purposeful and disciplined decisions are required to get from here to there.
The problem with weight-loss is not that it is impossible; it is that we must make consistent choices to get there. We must choose what foods to eat and what foods not to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat. We must accompany that by making cardio exercise a priority.
We all battle the same problem. We lose weight, but lack the continued discipline to keep it off. How can we maintain the discipline of exercise and wise-eating choices? Maybe we can do it for a while, but making it a life-long practice requires endurance, not just a dietary sprint here and there.
In the same way, believers in Jesus are expected to be in shape both physically and spiritually. A believer is a disciple of Jesus, so at the heart of the Christian faith is the word “discipline,” which requires the making of choices and being a disciplined and dedicated follower. Believers are to live in such a way as to reveal Jesus in our lifestyle. In Luke 9:23 (NLT) we read what Jesus said we must do to become His disciple: “Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” The cross we must take up are the choices to deny self in order to reveal Jesus to others. It is choosing to live the life Jesus tells us to live.
Paul wrote to Timothy about discipline, and the need for making disciplined decisions in our spiritual life, as well as in our physical life. In 1 Timothy 4:8 Paul taught: “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” So we are to do physical training, but even more importantly participate daily in the spiritual training of godliness. Godliness means to be like Jesus. Actually, it requires inviting Jesus into your life, so that Jesus can live in and through you by means of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. It is not a shaping of our lives from the outside in, but rather choosing to daily have the character and values of Jesus take the place of our selfish character and values.
Paul helps us see five areas in our lives where we need to continually choose for Jesus to manifest himself in and through us. In 1 Timothy 4:12 (NLT) he says: “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” Before you speak, ask Jesus to speak through you, so that what you say reveals Jesus’ wisdom. Pray that Jesus will be revealed in every decision, action and relationship of the day, i.e. in the way we live. Learn to love like Jesus loves you, by choosing for Jesus to fill you with the love described in 1 Corinthians 13:3-8. In your faith, choose that your will, desires and decisions will be aligned with what Jesus wants you to do today. Choose to ask God for his will to be done in your life today, and for God’s kingdom to come in and through your life today, just like God’s will is always done in heaven. Choose purity, i.e. undivided loyalty to God and his values.
Our tomorrows are comprised of the choices we make today. Discipline that works requires a “why” as well as a “what.” Each decision impacts your life, and becomes a building block in your tomorrow.
While being physically fit is very important, being spiritually healthy is even more so, because one day these bodies will succumb to death, but the person who entrusts their life to Jesus lives a better quality of life here and experiences eternal life even after this physical body wears out. Choose a disciplined life in both realms! Your choices today set the course for tomorrow.