Exercising Your Senses

Have you ever lost a considerable amount of weight? I grew up in a fitness-oriented family and took for granted the physical lifestyle we lived. Our garage was converted into an “exercise room.” My dad taught Martial Arts; my mom taught aerobics. On vacations, dad would post a sit-up and push-up chart and we actually thought it was fun to see who could do the most. Although I very much enjoyed the active family outings, obstacle courses, and challenges some of the workouts brought, I really didn’t get the whole idea of a fit life. I thought I would always be physically fit. And then I went to college. I lived the typical life of many Freshmen students. In my second semester I needed a Physical Education elective, so I returned to my roots and picked an aerobics course. Well, they make you step on the scale at the beginning and end of the semester. To my horror, I had cruised right on past the Freshman 15, straight to the Freshman 20.  I had to bust my butt working out and dieting to shed those extra 20 pounds. I didn’t weigh that much again until I was 5 ½ months pregnant. There’s something I have noticed from losing that Freshman 20, and then the almost 30-40 pounds I gained with each pregnancy. It is really hard to move past that image of your heavier self. Even when I shed the weight and built back some muscle tone, I still saw myself as a heavier person. It’s not like I hated looking at myself in the mirror or anything like that. I actually wasn’t sure anymore of what I was looking at. Fitness trainers are well aware of this problem. Often while I am doing a workout video, the trainer will encourage me to visualize my future body. At first, it would make me roll my eyes because I don’t believe that some mystical change will happen due to the power of my thinking. But there is an important lesson being taught: we need to exercise our senses as well. This involves looking ahead to our goal. Keeping with the verses and theme of my last article, Plateau Busters, I want to concentrate on Hebrews 5:14—this time using the New King James translation:
But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Putting this verse in its context, Arthur Pink in his commentary on Hebrews addresses how our spiritual maturity is affected by looking ahead:
A person may have been a Christian twenty or thirty years, but if he is not forgetting the things which are behind, and constantly pressing to the things before, he is, in actual experience and spiritual stature, but a “babe” (269-270).
We struggle by being influenced by sight. But things are not as they seem. When I look at my own spiritual condition, I can get very discouraged. Yet faith is exercised by looking away from myself, toward my future hope. This all reminds me of a very important part of the liturgy each Sunday morning. The body of Christ comes together and gives a Corporate Confession of Sin. When I speak in unison with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ confessing, “We are constantly in rebellion, rejecting your wise counsel, refusing to obey your commands, and seeking our own way…,” I feel stripped naked in front of that mirror. I know this person very well. But, by God’s grace, we are pointed to Christ in the Assurance of Pardon. My pastor clothes me in gospel assurance by saying:
Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God, and estate of salvation (which hope of theirs shall perish): yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed (WCF, Chapter 18, Paragraph 1).
Diligently keeping our focus on Christ matures our faith, enabling us to discern good from evil. We exercise our senses by truly partaking of the milk, letting it digest, and burning those calories, “lay[ing] aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and [running] with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2). I am encouraged to do this because I am confident that when God looks at me, he sees his beautiful Son, Jesus Christ.