I start a new fitness routine around the first of every year—with several thousand of my like-minded and like-squishy American friends. The new routine usually begins with the ceremonial setting of the 1200-calories-per-day goal. It’s a moving ceremony with no small amount of tears, but at least there’s a goal. Of course, being the goal-oriented kind of person I am, by the second week I’m meeting my 1200-calorie goal without fail. I’m meeting it before lunch. But still, I like to think that makes me an overachiever.
To hold to the New Year’s traditions I’ve long kept, I also think long and hard about joining a gym. Sometimes I actually go so far as to enroll. I figure the fitness centers with the fanciest machines are best, so I usually pick one of those. But how much would it reveal about me if I told you that my favorite machine at the gym is still the candy machine?
There’s one goal in particular, however, that I never want to play around with—a goal to set and leave firmly in place. It’s the goal of holiness. The goal of growing to look more like Jesus. And it’s the banner goal that flies over every other little goal in life. It’s funny how once we truly understand the goal of godly living, distractions in life are so much easier to sort out of our day, and they lose their power to rob us of our fruitfulness.
Making godliness our goal involves becoming more and more disciplined in all those things that promote holy living. It includes being faithful in reading and studying God’s word, in staying connected to Him in prayer, in plugging into a Bible-believing church, in loving and serving others in His name and in sharing Christ with those who don’t know Him.
Training to meet the holy living goal has forever benefits. First Timothy 4:7-8 says to “Train yourself in godliness, for the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” That means my membership card to even the most exclusive uptown gym won’t really impress anyone on the other side of Glory. Staying in shape physically is good. But working toward the goal of staying in shape spiritually—the goal of Christ-like, holy living—has benefits for us that reach right into eternity.
Incidentally, I’ve been rethinking some of those non-eternal, calorie-type goals. I just found out that my favorite morning cup of mocha has enough calories to take up my allowance through mid-afternoon. Of next Tuesday.
By RHONDA RHEA / contributing columnist