No Gain Without Pain
A devotional by Glynis Becker
“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
–Romans 12:1 (NASB)
I want to lose ten pounds. But here’s the shocking part: I don’t want to give up any of my favorite foods. I really hate to exercise. I like to sleep. Consequently, I don’t want to get up any earlier and walk or run or stretch or sweat or anything. So guess how long it will take to lose that weight? Maybe forever.
I want to be a published writer. But writing is hard work! Most days I’d rather spend my free time watching television, reading a book someone else wrote, or scrolling social media on whatever device is closest at hand. Will my book ever get written? At that rate, it’s not likely.
I want a deeper relationship with Jesus. But I resist regular prayer time and Bible reading in favor of other, easier distractions during the time I should be spending with Him. And the end result? A stalled growth in my faith and a gap between us wide enough for temptation and sin to flood inside.
We are constantly bombarded with messages about all the things we deserve and the shortcuts we can take to get them. Whether it’s “making money with these three easy steps” or “lose weight while you sleep,” all of us can get sucked into the idea that we can gain what we want with no sacrifice on our part. But it’s not true.
Our salvation is a free gift from God. We don’t earn it. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB)
Don’t be mistaken. There is a cost. If we want to gain the fullness of what God has for us here in this life…If we want to be good ambassadors of His kingdom…If we want to share His love to its fullest extent…If we want to know Jesus, not just know about Him, then we must give up whatever we know is holding us back from doing that.
In the story of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-27), a man asks Jesus what he could do to inherit eternal life. When He told the young man to keep the commandments, the man said he always had. Jesus then told the rich young ruler to sell his possessions and give them to the poor. Did Jesus know the one thing that held this rich man back from truly becoming a follower? Of course, and so He knew exactly what to ask for. The man walked away, saddened, because he wasn’t ready to give up his riches. I’ve always felt great compassion for this man, probably because I see myself in this story.
What is that I hold onto so tightly that if Jesus asked me to give it up, I would walk away, saddened because I just couldn’t do it?
We are only weeks away from Easter Sunday. Jesus’s sacrifice should be our model every day (not just when Easter comes around) of how, while our sacrifices may feel too hard, in the end, that surrender will be greatly rewarded. Our willingness to give up things we love—comfort foods, television, personal property, whatever He asks of us—proves to ourselves that our provision is in Christ alone.
When we know our true priorities, we can let go of anything that doesn’t line up with them. Do you and I really want to be followers of Christ? If so, ponder this: What is He asking each of us to let go of today?
I’m ready to prayerfully consider the answer to that question. Are you?
Let’s Pray: Dear Jesus, thank You for showing us what a life committed to God looks like. Please show us today what things hold us back from a life lived completely for You. We love You and praise You for your goodness, grace, and forgiveness. In Your Name I pray. Amen.
Note: Today’s devotional by Glynis reminds me of Keith & Kristyn Getty’s performance of the song "In Christ Alone”. Listen to it here.
Glynis Becker writes devotions and inspirational fiction, hoping someday to have a published novel on her resume.
She has co-written several screenplays, including the film Sinking Sand, available on DVD and digital streaming.
Glynis, whose childhood was spent all over the country as an Air Force brat, has called South Dakota home for many years, along with her husband and two college-age children.
When she’s not writing or reading, she is watching more television than she should and crocheting.
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