The end of each year is when people throw off things. They throw off their budget to purchase a plethora of Christmas gifts; they throw off their failures from the year and make new resolutions, and they throw off restraint, and eat as many pieces of pie as they want between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
I didn’t spend my Christmas vacation eating pie, but I did spend it eating chocolate-covered almonds out of a small, glass dish strategically placed near where I spent most of my time at my mother’s kitchen table. My first handful of almonds, and even the second and third, tasted great. But by the end of the first day at mom’s, I had—regretfully—eaten the entire dish of chocolate-covered almonds. And when I woke the next morning – ta-da! –it was full again. My mother said, “I know someone who likes those (Who could that be?) and so I will just keep filling that little dish up until my supply is gone.” Great. During my time at my mom’s, I wish I could say that I didn’t eat the entire supply of 1,358 almonds, but I did. And I was reminded once more of a valuable lesson.
God created us for boundaries because they protect us. Whenever we don’t exercise control in any area of our lives, instead of feeling freedom, we will feel internally bound. Bound by guilt. Bound by fear. Bound by self-loathing.
I remember the first time I ever went on a purposeful health program. For six months, I ate only the things that God created, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains. I didn’t consume bread or sugar—and I felt great! But the best part was that I wasn’t internally bound; instead, I was internally free because I was exercising self-control.
Instead of guilt, I felt proud of my accomplishment; instead of feeling fear, I felt in control, and instead of feeling self-loathing, I liked the physical changes. For the first time, I learned in a very practical way that self-control, which is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), always brings internal freedom.
At the beginning of November, I started a juice fast. By day seven I was feeling energetic, and my favorite pair of pants fit a little looser. Then, Thanksgiving rolled around, and I completely rolled off the health wagon and right into my mother’s kitchen where I ate all of her chocolate-covered almonds. It didn’t make me happy, or joyous—or free. Now I am ready for some serious self-control, because I know that it will bring me the gift of internal freedom.
As you make your New Year’s resolutions about health and fitness, remember that eating right and having self-control isn’t just about being able to fit into your skinny jeans so that you can look better in photos. It’s about not being mastered by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12) so that you can live the internally abundant life that Christ promised in John 10:10. Are you ready for a little more internal abundance? I sure am!