… in terms of mass, anyway.
Have you seen one of those pretty color-coded BMI charts lately? As of today, I’ve moved into one of those green squares. Now, it’s an edge green square, with a yellow square next to it, looking ominous and whispering “Danger, Will Robinson, danger!” But, still, it’s green.
A year ago, I was in one of those orange Whataburger-colored squares, of which a contributing cause may or may not have been Whataburgers. I was a semi-permanent resident; I had been in that square for ten years or so—there were pictures on the wall, a well-lived in couch, and stacks of chocolate in the closet.
You should know I hate moving. Talking about a new house can be fun, but the actual act of moving is a giant hassle. So while I wasn’t particular thrilled with that orange square (I mean, visiting a Whataburger is OK, but do you really want to live in one?), and although I had entertained a lot of thoughts about a new square, when it came time to actually move I found my favorite kind of physics was inertia.
But a year ago, our kids and the WCG left after being here for three-and-a-half months during the early days of the first lockdown and aftermath. When the kids are here, Nana goes crazy: we had three half-gallons of Bluebell in the freezer at any one time, we had torts and cookies and all manner of other deserts, in addition to pizza and wings and BBQ and you get the drift. Normally they’re only here for six weeks or so, and when they are here we’re out doing things, but this time it was over twice that long, and we were doing a big bag of nothing due to the lockdown. So while I didn’t move, I did expand my square. I might have been in four squares.
After they left, several things came together. No kids, so no Bluebell, torts, pizza, etc. COVID, so no lunches out, which normally I or we would meet someone once or twice a week. And, no one coming to the house, which again we would do two or three times a month. (And when the desserts would show back up.) The actual meals themselves weren’t as much of an issue: we had Talapia Monday and Southwest salad Saturday1, and what was in-between was usually pretty solid, nutrition-wise. It was what I snacked on in-between meals that was the biggest contributor to the orange square.
So I decided to try something: no eating between meals. After a month or so, I’d lost four or five pounds, so I thought, “Well, let’s just see how this goes,” and on we went. I don’t think I ever lost more than three pounds in two weeks (I only weighed every two weeks because OCD), but with a couple of exceptions, I lost something every one of those two weeks. And just like a pound a year2 doesn’t sound like much but adds up over time, losing a pound a week or so isn’t much but it adds up over time.
But I’m not really here to talk about the move. I’m here to talk about what God gradually showed me as the year went on—that sin is very much like pounds. It builds up a little at a time, but it accumulates quicker than we think, and it’s a lot harder to get rid of than it is to add some more. I have a tendency to focus on the “big” sins (meals), and not pay attention to the “small” sins (snacks) that contribute more to the state of my spiritual waistband. But just like there are no “big” or “small” calories, there are no “big” or “small” sins, there are just sins, and if I don’t get rid of them, they accumulate.
As with pounds, it’s easy to talk about getting rid of sin, but inertia is a powerful thing: a thing at rest stays at rest unless its state is changed by an external force. In other words, in order to get rid of it, I have to act, to do something. I wanted to be thinner, but I wasn’t willing to lose weight, because that involves doing something. A lot of us want to know more about God, but we aren’t willing to actually read His Word. We want to know God better, but we aren’t willing to actually spend more time with Him (prayer).
We want to sin less, but we don’t want to make the choice to stop sinning. And as believers, sin is a choice: The One who lives in us is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4), we are no longer a slave to sin (Romans 6:17–18), God provides the way out for every temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), etc. But I have to do something: I have to choose to go with God instead of the devil, I have to say “no” to the false bread regardless of how hungry I am, I have to tell the devil to beat it no matter how awesome what he’s saying sounds (because he’s a liar, John 8:44), I have to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit make the decisions in my life.
And, of course, like pounds, losing sin isn’t done when we’ve dropped a few. We have to keep them off. Which requires more doing, not for a day or week, but for a life.
I don’t know how many of us need to lose weight (if you’re an American, the odds are approximately 99.9981% it’s “yes”), but I know that all of us need to lose some sin. Let’s run with endurance as we lay aside the sin that so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1–3).