Bare-chested men stand before mirrors, admiring their flexed biceps, and dreaming of an even lower body mass index. Bare-naked women refuse to look at their bodies fearing this will be theday cellulite rears its dimpled cheek. We’re never satisfied. Even the thinnest models don’t make the magazine cover without anair brush erasing any trace of plump. We live in a world obsessed with appearance.
It’s not healthy to carry extra weight. We do need to lighten up. Grocery stores, corporations, and governments agree. Supermarket shelves overflow with light food. Work places build fitness centers for their employees. Weight loss programs like “Lighten Up 4 Life” challenge us to live healthy lifestyles. Lettuce heads may one day replace cheese heads if “Lighten Up Wisconsin” succeeds. With all this emphasis on lowering weight, why is obesity an epidemic?
Perhaps we have neglected to lighten up the most vital organ in our bodies—our hearts.
In fact, we aren’t merely to lighten up. God commands us to strip!
In Hebrews 12:1 (NLT) He says, “…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.” God affirms His teaching to strip in Colossians 3:9 (NLT) when He says, “ …you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.”
When someone strips, they take it all off. Once, I stripped at the command of my doctor. Walking out of the examining room, he told me to “take it all off.” I did. Without a cotton or paper gown in sight, I sat on the examining table totally naked. When my doctor returned, his deer-in-the-headlights expression revealed that I had misunderstood his instruction. He intended that I take off only one piece of clothing to expose the small area where I was having a medical problem. Instead, I sat there in all my glory. He chuckled and said, “If I were a scculptor or a painter, you would do fine. But I’m a doctor. Roll over.” My doctor told me to take it all off. He didn’t mean “all.” But God does.
I wasn’t comforted on an airliner when the pilot announced, “I’m sorry for the delay in take off. We’ve learned that the airplane is too heavy. We need to lighten up. Will two people volunteer to get off and take a different flight?” To my horror, two little ladies raised their hands. Off they went. For some reason their combined weight of, I’m guessing, 175 pounds lightened the airplane enough to meet safety requirements. If that aircraft had been my heart, I think removing my two tiniest sins might get me off the ground but would not enable me to soar. God wants us to unload all of our baggage.
What sins weigh our hearts down? God answers that question. He made us a list in Colossians 3:15b (NLT): “Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires.” What part of “have nothing to do with” do we not understand? Yet, we live in a world filled with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires and wonder why our marriages and our lives seem so heavy.
Examine yourself. What are you letting into your eyes? From your eyes, it will then enter your mind and could eventually take up residence in your heart.
But God isn’t done. His list continues in Colossians 3:8-9 (NLT): “But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.”
Let me ask you: Has anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander or dirty language ever solved a problem? It may have ended the argument as your beloved shuts down at your marriage-killing behavior, but it didn’t solve the problem. This conduct can possibly help you with the sprint, but you and your marriage partner will be way too exhausted to ever win the marathon. Such behavior saps the entire family of strength.
To win the race God planned, we must decide to throw off the things that trip us. Shed the clothes that slow us down. Don’t allow the devil access to our playing fields. Satan’s team knocks minutes off our clocks. Time we will never get back.
There is One Who will help me run this race. He promises to run with me across the finish line. My eyes are fixed on Jesus. My hands are holding His, and He’ll never let go.
Sin never wins the victory. A heart filled with Jesus does.
(Excerpted from We All Married Idiots: Three Things You Will Never Change About Your Marriage and Ten Things You Can by Elaine W. Miller, published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Used by permission.)
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Are there certain aspects of your life that need to be “stripped down”? What does that look like for you? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
We All Married Idiots: Three Things You Will Never Change About Your Marriage and Ten Things You Can
Elaine W. Miller
Normal Price: $11.95
Amazon Price: $7.95 (print)
Elaine W. Miller is a popular author and speaker known for sharing biblical insights with warmth, enthusiasm, and humor. A member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, she has brought a splash of serenity to audiences for more than 25 years. Elaine is the author of three books: Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Moms, Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Wives, and We All Married Idiots: Three Things You’ll Never Change About Your Marriage and Ten Things You Can. Her work has been published in Sanctuary—A Devotional Bible for Women as well as several magazines. Elaine and her husband, an ordained minister with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, have led many marriage retreats and counseled numerous hurting couples. They travel annually to Bosnia as a Pastoral Care Couple to missionaries there. Residing in upstate New York, Elaine and Dan enjoy a beautiful life and ministry together. Three married children and eight grandchildren complete their joy.