I have been on a diet since the first of the year. I’m eating smarter and healthier but occasionally I still meet with students for lunch and occasionally we’ll end up eating fast food. Recently I did just that and was lamenting about how unhealthy I feels everytime I eats at Mickey D’s. He countered simply with “but it tastes so good”. I responded by joking about how there was a sermon illustration about sin somewhere in there.
I was kidding but there is a spiritual lesson there. At first it seemed pretty trivial. But that lesson hit home when I went to order.
First, let me give you some context. I’m a supersize sort of guy. Before my decision (after 8 days in the hospital) to take my health seriously my order would have been 2 double cheese burgers, large fries, large soft drink, and 2 apple pies. Now I haven’t been on a spiritual fast by any means but I know that unhealthy eating was one of the causes of my physical ailments and wanted to do eat healthier if I couldn’t exercise as much as I should (that’s a whole separate issue). So I have been eating better for about 90 days and here was my chance to end that streak, and eat all the fast food that I love.
So that brings us to me at the counter ready to order, what would it be? As I perused the overhead menu, I found, to my great surprise, that I had no desire to fill up a Large drink with Coke or Dr. Pepper. Maybe it was the Big Mac that was settling in my stomach and fries that were going straight to my hips : ), whatever it was, I was surprised I had no hunger for the fat laden, white bread delights that I loved only 3 months earlier. I ordered a salad (and stole a couple of his fries). Will it make a big difference to my health? Probably not, but I am pleased with myself.
Now is there a spiritual lesson here? I believe so. When we struggle with sin, especially a specific sin, the more we indulge in it the worse our spiritual lives get. The more we give in, the more we eat it up, the more it becomes a habit and contributes to the deterioration of our spiritual health. Yet the opposite is also true. The more we cut ourselves off from it, the more we abstain from that which so easily entangles, the less directly appealing it is to us and the healthier our spiritual lives are.
The more we replace sin with God’s Word, friendship with the world with intimacy with Christ, the less of a hunger we have for sin. One of the main things I’m doing differently as I try to be healthier is to eat more vegestables so I eat lots of salads. The last thing I thought I would order at Mickey D’s was a salad. But what did I choose today instead of 2 double cheese burgers? That exact option. I discovered a salad was a tasty enough and healthy enough alternative that those double cheeseburgers didn’t have the same appeal to me they once did. No one was more surprised by this than me.
Likewise, sin won’t have the same powerful pull on our hearts when we’ve focused ourselves on the grace, mercy, peace, and enduring faithfulness of our Conquering Savior. Count on it!