Recently someone said to me, "I just wanted that magic potion. I wanted this to be the answer. I wanted the same benefits that I read everyone else was experiencing. I wanted to feel perfect." How often do we feel that way? We see the results someone else is experiencing from a certain program, diet or exercise plan and we think we should be just as lucky. This way of thinking is dangerous on many levels. First, as we learned last week, the pursuit of bodily perfection is futile. We will explore the second component of this today.
I want you to ask yourself, “What is my motivation? Why do I work so hard, exercise, eat the right foods and choose sleep over late night movies or parties?”
Motivation is defined as “The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way or the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.” If we are motivated by fitting into our favorite pair of jeans; or showing our ex what he’s missing; or proving we have what it takes to our boss, coworker or friend; or just to make ourself feel good, we have superficial motivation that more often than not ends in failure.
At first glance, this may seem a bit harsh and hard to swallow, or even convicting. The world is motivated by self and the advancement of self. It stresses the importance of having it all: a successful career, a wonderful husband, a great figure, trendy wardrobe, a family, a dog and the environmentally friendly car. It’s the all-about-me syndrome, which is promoted by self-help books and identified as determination. The world may trick us into thinking that it’s okay, even necessary, to think about ourselves only - to act on our impulses because it’s something we deserve, something we’ve earned as a result of all of the hard work we’ve done. The world may even convince us that our self-focus is a positive trait - a trait that successful people have and everyone else wants to attain. The thing is, the authors of those self-help books, the actors in the infomercials, the owners of the retail stores, coffee shops, and pedicure salons all want one thing - our money. They do not have our best interests in mind. They do not care about us and our soul. As much as they try to sugar-coat it, and convince us that our motivations are pure and worth-while, they are wrong. We are wrong for believing this widely accepted lie. The devil uses the world and its ambitions to trick us. He is crafty and cunning, but we can take heart, Jesus has overcome the devil and the world.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Jesus set the example of our motivation in this life.
My food, said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. John 4:34
Jesus was concerned with doing the will of his Father. He was motivated by discovering what that will was for his life and then making decisions that coincided with it. He fulfilled his father’s will perfectly. We, on the other hand, do not. We will not. But we can have the same motivation. We can concern ourselves with our Father’s will. The same Father. Rest in this for a moment. The same Father who was with Jesus during his life, death, and resurrection is OUR father. He loves us just the same. He wants what is best for us. In response to this love, we can change our motivation from the world’s all-about-me syndrome to asking the question “What can I do for you, Father? How can I serve you by exercising and making healthier lifestyle choices?" Immediately when we shift the focus from ourself and focus on Jesus, we experience freedom. We no longer feel pressured to measure up or feel as if we have failed. Demonstrating our love for him by exercising and being a good steward of the body he has given us glorifies God.
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. I Corinthians 10:31
Just this past weekend my husband ran a marathon. He had a goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2014. He had to decrease his current marathon time by just over 18 minutes for that goal to be met. He ran the race at a pace that would accomplish this goal up until mile 19. He began to struggle both physically and mentally. He finished the race four minutes shy of the qualifying time. If he would have focused on this one fact, the fact that he did not meet his goal, he would have missed out on the worship experience that exercise can be. Yes, he was disappointed at first. Yes, he wished he would have met his goal. But he ran the race that God had marked out for him. He gave glory to God by thanking him for the opportunity to even race in the first place and then to have improved upon his time by fourteen minutes! That’s quite the accomplishment that he could have neglected to see had he been focused on himself rather than God.
Pure motivation takes work and prayer. We can be easily distracted by the daily hardships and trials that we face. We can be tempted to feel self-pity and resolute in our way of thinking. This leads to desolation, distraction, depression and defeat. Let's shift our eyes on him. And by daily praying for God’s will to be displayed, by daily reading God’s word to build our confidence in his will, we will be glorifying God with our actions. Our exercise will be an act of worship. Our healthy food choices will be an act of obedience to his will. Our decision to make healthy lifestyle choices will be a demonstration of our trust in him and our joy in carrying out his will. Be motivated to do ALL things, big or small, by your Savior and his love for you and you will feel refreshed, full of joy and free.