A Shot in the Arm

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I got a shot in the arm yesterday. Literally. A tetanus shot. Today my upper arm feels like somebody used it as a punching bag. This too shall pass, and when it does, I’ll be protected from tetanus for another ten years. I believe in preventative medicine. The process is worth the pain. Tetanus is deadly, but preventable.

So what sort of preventative medicine do we need in our spiritual life? Where is pain worth the gain? We might not like to think of spiritual growth as painful or uncomfortable, but actually, on occasion, it is.

  • Getting up early to pray isn’t always easy.
  • Saying “no” to culturally popular activities that are unquestionably questionable can be downright difficult.
  • Fasting. That’s going without food! Need I say more?
  • Serving the needs of someone else when my own needs are screaming for attention takes a hefty dose of selflessness–seldom fun, at least at first.
  • And, let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to turn off everything else that’s going on in life long enough to open the Bible and get quiet before the Lord.

But what does the Bible say about these forms of “medicine”?

  • “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3).
  • “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile” (Psalm 101:3).
  • When (not if ) you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:16).
  • “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).
  • “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’”(Psalm 46:10).

I don’t know when I may need today’s protection from tetanus. Nobody ever plans to step on a nail or cut a finger. In the same way, we don’t know when we’ll need particular spiritual strength. We rarely see trials or temptations heading our way. They tend to take us by surprise. That’s why we need preventative medicine—daily habits of spiritual growth and obedience. They honor our Lord and help prepare us for whatever is to come. So bring on those shots in the arm!

 

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