Most people are a little embarrassed about sweating– even while exercising! Although I used to be one of them, I now find this a little ridiculous. How do you know if you’ve worked hard if your body’s cooling response (sweating) hasn’t kicked in? Why bother going to the gym if you aren’t going to actually do anything?
Sweating is one signal that you are working! You can know that you are being challenged, growing stronger or increasing your endurance, if you are sweating.
Does following Jesus make you sweat?
Maybe not literally, but figuratively. Do you have any signs of the toils of your labor? Jesus tells us to come and die to follow him. (Luke 9:23-25). I have people in my spin class all the time that tell me they are “dying”…and I can assure you that statement comes after lots and lots of sweating.
But, if you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, I ask you again, do you have any signs of working out your salvation? Do you have any sweat invested?
Allow me to give you an example.
The carpet in our family room is horrible. Just over four years ago it was brand new. We kept it looking great for the first few years we lived in our home. But, then Jesus got a hold of us. He showed us that we weren’t really loving our neighbors (we didn’t even know them), we didn’t have a lot of close relationships, and frankly, we didn’t really even have that many friends. God challenged us to plant a church and to reach out to those around us in a way we had never done before.
Our carpets were clean because we never had anyone over to mess them up.
What happened when God challenged us to increase the amount of hospitality (and fellowship) we did? My carpet got dirty. Not just my carpet, really. My house got dirty. Week in and week out people would come to our house for small groups, dinner, or even (for a few months) a weekly church service. Toys got broken, beverages got spilled, and the carpets. Even with a few steam cleanings, they just can’t recover.
I’d be lying if I said I loved our filthy carpet. (Truthfully, I dream about replacing it with wood laminate that is better for high traffic.) But, I think it’s like sweat. I don’t love sweat, but I love what I’ve done that makes me sweat. Just like I don’t love the spots on our beige carpet, I love the number of people we’ve had come through our home that have contributed to them.
And, I have to wonder if God isn’t happy that our carpets are dirty?
Just like the sweat-less “exerciser,” if our carpets were clean, it might actually be symptomatic of the fact that we were unwilling to allow God to use our home. Sure, our house might look better, but we wouldn’t be allowing God to use it. Our dirty carpet is a lingering statement of the intentional work that we’ve put into building relationships. And, for that reason, I’m not really ashamed of it. It’s part of our sweat investment.
So, here’s the question: Christian, are you sweating?
Are your carpets dirty from hospitality? Or, (if that’s not your gift), are your pockets empty from giving? Is your voice cracked from teaching? Are your eyes tired from studying? Are you ears weary from listening? Are your arms tired from serving? Are you working in your gifting so hard that you feel it?
Or, are you clocking in at the spiritual gym once a week (also called church) and then taking the rest of the week off? If so, I don’t think that’s sweating. Just as no one is going to get in shape that way, I don’t think Jesus wants his followers to live that way either.
And, frankly, I don’t think that’s dying. I think we are called to more.
But, I know what you are thinking. You are too busy. You have so much “stuff” to do. Ironically it’s the same excuse people use for not going to the gym. They are too busy to get there. I would challenge them with, “No, you just haven’t made it a priority.”
Yet, I meet people all the time that tell me they are Christians but they never have “time” to work out their salvation. Hmmm…if someone told you that they were an athlete yet they worked out once a week, never breaking a sweat, would you believe them?
If you say you are a follower of Jesus Christ and yet you never sweat for him, you never invest in his kingdom, you rarely work out love in your life…are you, really?
What do you think?