A few years ago, I put together the book “91 Days to a Better You.” It was ultimately intended to be a resource to help lead people to Christ as it included daily Bible readings. Secondarily, it was designed to be a guide to weight loss through proper nutrition and exercise.
For the people that followed the program, there was great success. One person lost 25 pounds in a month and another lost 19 pounds in 4 weeks.
For others, the book provided short term results because they quit following the program. I recall one lady that was following the plan faithfully for about a month. I would only see her once a week at church, but when I would see her, I could tell her face was narrowing. Then one day, I saw her eating donuts. Not long after that I noticed her face began to get rounder.
Others received no benefit from the book because they never followed its instructions. There were always a lot of excuses, “I have a sweet tooth,” or “I'm waiting on my spouse to start the program,” or “I haven't started to read the book yet.”
For the people in the previous two paragraphs, they were not willing to make a change to their lifestyle. It's not like the book requires expensive gym membership or weeks and weeks of calorie counting and a steady diet of salads. Just follow the recipes, eat multiple times a day, use portion control, do the moderate exercises, and watch the weight fall off. But rather than attempting a program that could help them feel better and mitigate (if not eliminate) some of the illness from which they suffered, they chose to live in pain and spend money on expensive medications and doctors.
It is a great truth that as things are in the physical world, so they are in the spiritual. God has given us a plan in the Bible to receive love, joy, peace, self-control, and other fruits of the Spirit, but it takes commitment. It takes a life-style change. For those that ask Jesus to save them from their sins, study their Bible daily (and do what it says), pray, attend a Bible-believing church, and seek God diligently, they receive God's promises. For those that begin as disciples but stop following the Lord, they will only gain short term benefits during their lifetime. Those that don't follow the instructions at all choose not only to suffer from lack of love, joy, and peace, but they also choose eternal damnation.
Like with physical exercise, spiritual exercise isn't always fun. Sometimes it can be boring. And, just as muscles hurt after a workout, your pride may hurt after a spiritual workout. But the results are worth the labor.
It's not like God requires his followers to crawl on broken glass, live in quiet seclusion, nail themselves to a cross, beat their heads against a pole or onto a concrete floor, or blow themselves up with bombs. Jesus even said, “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light,” and John said, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
Jesus warned about the consequences of not following His words. In the parable of the sower, He also talked about the different categories of people: those who would not obey; those who started to obey, but stopped; and the rewards of those who fully obeyed.
One day, you will stand before the Lord. All the excuses you may be using to fool others and maybe even yourself won't stand before Him.