Prepare Yourself . . . Physically

In his book ReWard Yourself, poet, author, and oft-quoted columnist William Ward tells the story of a boy named Tommy who moved the turkey eggs.

When little Tommy’s mother missed the eggs from under the turkey hen, she asked him if he knew where they could be.

“I put them in the dog house,” answered Tommy.  “We want puppies, not turkeys.”

Have you ever put turkey eggs in the dog house?

That’s what we’re doing when we abuse our bodies with improper nutrition, intemperate habits, irregular hours and inadequate exercise . . . and expect them to perform pain-free, properly and persistently.

We’re putting turkey eggs in the dog house when we habitually neglect our prayer life, forget our quiet times and expect to grow spiritually and attain peace of mind.

We’re putting turkey eggs in the dog house when we fail to set goals and expect to achieve success in our endeavors.

We’re putting turkey eggs in the dog house when we practice selfishness and expect to experience happiness.

We can’t hatch puppies from turkey eggs!  (92)

To Tommy’s dismay, he discovered that turkey eggs do not produce puppies.  While Tommy desperately desired to see puppies appear, he looked to the wrong source.

Today we continue in our preparation.  We need to prepare ourselves emotionally, spiritually and intellectually as we discussed over the past three weeks.  However, if we stop here, we will stop short.  For centuries, men and women have stopped short by leaving off the fourth and equally important area of life, namely the physical area.  I will provide for you some sophisticated sounding “isms” that label the actions of neglecting the physical area.  They are extreme opposites. 
1)    Gnosticism – this philosophy or movement started in early Christianity.  Erroneously, those who held to Gnostic views saw all matter and flesh as evil.  Therefore, they concluded that the highest good was accomplished through knowledge and enlightenment.
2)    Hedonism – this philosophy represents the opposite extreme.  Hedonists see pleasure as the highest good.

As it applies to the physical, Gnostics reject its importance and direct their focus most exclusively on spiritual and intellectual development; while Hedonists worship the physical and find little, if any, value of emotional, spiritual or intellectual development.  It benefits you to know the names of these “isms,” but knowing and embracing the biblical view of the proper use of the physical is far more important.  Stopping short with only three life areas will not work.  Don’t attempt it.

Attempting to live life as God purposed for you to do by ignoring the physical or worshiping the physical is like expecting puppies from turkey eggs.  Read Ward again, “We can’t hatch puppies from turkey eggs!”

In order to explore the biblical view of God’s purpose for the physical life area, I want to draw your attention to two key passages:

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Matthew 26:41 (NIV)

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.  Romans 6:11-14, 19 (NIV)

Using the verses we just read, I see two actions that God calls each believer to take in his/her quest to honor God with the physical.

Two Actions for Physical Readiness:
1)  Concede Your Weakness – (Matthew 26)

In His hour of most need, Peter, James, and John failed Jesus.  Jesus knew that Judas would lead the soldiers to arrest Him.  With that knowledge, Jesus asked His closest disciples to keep watch so that He could spend that limited yet crucial time in communion with His Father; He was sorrowful and troubled so He needed His “Papa,” the One He called “Abba.”  In that moment of most need, the three most trusted out of the 12 failed their Lord.

Why did they fail?  Jesus provided the answer:  “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

In this life, Jesus calls you to keep watch.  If you do as He commands, you are His disciple.  As His disciple, He calls you to stay alert as you serve Him.  Far too many believers attempt to serve God without conceding their physical weakness.  Their pride becomes their fall . . .
(1)  Husbands and wives who said they never would, divorce.

Pastors who said they never would, cheat on their spouses.

Business owners who said they never would, give in to corrupt practices for financial gain.

Dating couples who said they would wait, give their bodies to one another before they give their vows to one another.

Honest citizens who said they never would, cut corners on their taxes.

What did you do that you said, maybe even swore, you would never do? 

In his gospel, Luke tells the same story as Matthew about the disciples falling asleep.  He also includes a detail Matthew does not mention.  He tells us that the disciples failed Jesus by falling asleep because they were “exhausted from sorrow.”

Was it sorrow that caused your fall?
Was it greed, pride, anger, hurt . . .?

No matter the cause, Jesus provides the answer.  Concede, admit, your weakness.  Conceding will enable you to do as Jesus also commands, Watch and pray.”

The reason He gives for our watching and praying is so that we will not fall into temptation.  Does that sound familiar?
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”  Matthew 6:13 (NIV)
Take note:  even Jesus conceded weakness! 
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”  Matthew 26:38 (NIV)

2)  Commit Your Body – (Romans 6)
Christ does not belong in your heart and head alone. 
How do you use your hands?  To shake?  To hit?  To present vulgar signs? 

Your lips?  To speak kind words?  To bless a friend?  Or, as Judas, to betray a friend with a kiss?

Your eyes?  To look at the beauty of the place you live?  To read the Word?  Or to view vulgarity?

Your ears? 
Your feet? 
Your intimate parts? 

Do you destroy or build with the parts of your body?

Notice the word “slavery” in verse 19. 

You and I are called to serve as slaves and to serve willingly.  The difference between those who serve righteousness and those who serve wickedness is determined by choices we make.  When God calls, He calls each one of us to switch masters.  Back in verses 12 and 14, we saw the terms “reign” and “your master” respectively.  We need to reject the reign (or rule) and mastery of sin over our physical lives and embrace the loving reign and mastery of Christ over our physical lives.

As you prepare to live in the power of Christ’s resurrection, you will need to prepare yourself emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and physically.  Please do not try the first three without commitment to the fourth.  You can answer the call to serve God with all of your being. 
“You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.”  1 Corinthians 6:19b-20 (1984 NIV)

For further reading:

Ward, William. ReWard Yourself. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 1986.

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