Power to overcome
People are roughly divided into two groups – those who go to the gym (or who at least think you should), and those, like me, who have never actually been inside one – shock horror! With some people, exercise is almost an ethic, for others it’s a waste of good energy. Personally, I’ve plenty of cupboards to clean, stairs to climb, washing to hang out, and a whole lot of other stuff I need to do, that keep me well exercised. But however you keep fit, it’s all about building muscles. You do stuff, use the muscles, and they get stronger; then you can do more stuff.
The same applies in the spiritual life. The more you do the spiritual disciplines, the more power you have to overcome your weaknesses. Forgiving others is so very hard, but it’s like exercising that muscle, God helps us find the strength to decide to start forgiving, then to do it better, and eventually get to the place where unforgiveness no longer has a hold over us, and we can overcome the hatred, so we are free to be forgiven ourselves (Matthew 6:14-15, and see also Dirty hands, clean hands).
It also applies to fasting (Matthew 6:16-18). Not something we find easy in our culture, but it is do-able. Again, choosing to begin in a small way, and building it up like a muscle.
There are rewards for forgiving (being forgiven) and for fasting that is done right. It’s all about power to overcome. How often have you encountered a problem like not being able to forgive, or not feeling up to fasting, or serious prayer, or something that you feel God is telling you to do, but you find too challenging – and you tell yourself, “I just can’t do this, I’m not spiritual enough, I’m just not that person, it’s not how I am…” Is there a Christian on the planet who has not had those thoughts? Yet some do achieve great things. So why not me? Why not you? We too have the Holy Spirit to help…
Like building muscles, choose to start. Begin with small things, but begin. Then keep going. Do stuff, and then you get stronger and do more stuff. It’s power to overcome. Overcoming yourself, and your own perceived limitations to start with. But with God’s help, power to overcome.