I joined with about 40 others at church in a "Biggest Loser" competition. We were divided between two gyms and several trainers. The contest started in early January and ended last Sunday. Several people lost over 20 pounds each. My goal was 20, but if I came anywhere near that I was going to be satisfied. Six weeks into the eight week process I had lost 16 pounds and I thought I might have a shot at that 20 pound goal after all. The final two weeks I checked the scales every other day or so. Each day the same weight. No weight loss. One day I was shocked, even though I was eating better and working out twice a week, to find that I had actually gained a pound. The next day or so that pound disappeared, but once again I had fallen to the sixteen pound loss plateau.
So eight weeks finally passed and my weight stabilized at that plateau. During that time period I had only tasted a piece of cake that a friend insisted that I taste. I had not bought or made french fries in two months. No sweetened beverage had touched my lips. I had only one piece of grilled chicken pizza. I had been a good boy. Now with all restraints cast aside I have become less careful as to my consumption of delectables. Since Sunday I have eaten 3 pieces of pizza, several pieces of cake and hash-browns from the Huddle House. Well as long as I'm confessing, although I ordered unsweetened ice tea at said Huddle House, the server brought sweet tea. I didn't send it back.
I began to feel like I had lost all momentum and gained several pounds by this morning. As early as yesterday, clothes had already begun to feel tighter. So this morning I decided to step on the scales and see how much damage had been done. Preparing for the worst I stepped up and squinted down at the number just beyond my toes. I HAD LOST ANOTHER POUND! ARE YOU KIDDING? I had now lost seventeen pounds. Why did I feel heavier than last Sunday when the contest ended? The answer: PERCEPTION. My perception because of my actions was that I was heavier. For most of us our perception is our reality.
Good story you say, but where is the spiritual application you ask. Really, do you have to ask? How many of us feel more "saved" after we have shared our faith. How many believers feel more "righteous" after a month of consistent church attendance, Bible study or tithing. All of these things are good in themselves and should be practiced. Just like eating right is a good thing. But on the opposite extreme, when we stumble or become lax in our faith walk we perceive that we are less that righteous. Or if we lapse into an old habit that plagued us before we gave our life to Christ we begin to doubt our relationship with Him. Remember, perception is a powerful thing. To many, perception is their reality.
In times like these we need to step on the scales again. Get the facts instead of relying on feelings. The truth is we have become new creations in Christ. When you were saved you didn't go from bad to good. You went from dead to alive. You were never accepted into His family because you straightened up your act. You were adopted as a child of God because you were forgiven. Don't let the enemy tempt you to doubt by having you focus on your weaknesses instead of His tremendous grace. Perception is not always reality.