1 Corinthians 9:23-27: "All this I do for the gospel's sake, in order to share in its blessings. Surely you know that many runners take part in a race, but only one of them wins the prize. Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize. Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last for ever. That is why I run straight for the finishing line; that is why I am like a boxer who does not waste his punches. I harden my body with blows and bring it under complete control, to keep myself from being disqualified after having called others to the contest."
You can't win a race, if you don't run it. You can't succeed in something if you never attempt it. You can't learn from mistakes, if you never take action and fail. What are you trying to win? What do you want to make happen and what does success at that look like? Are you making steps to achieve those goals? Why? Why not? Is your appetite ruining your diet? Is your diet causing you to fail at things?
What words would you use to describe our society? Materialistic, sure. We are. Our capitalistic sensibilities are good at making us want to work and see profit, but they also train us to focus on the end goal of making money - getting stuff. Everyone loves stuff. (Remember the Steve Martin movie, 'The Jerk?' When he lost his fortune and his wife left.. she said, "it's not about the money, it's a bout the stuff." We are sensual, sure. We know that sex sells everything. If you can get us to feel flushed and excited, we equate the product with that feeling of beauty and intimacy and we will spend money for it. We are impatient. We want it all and we do not want to wait for any of it. We don't want to build and see growth, we want the finished product. We are indulgent. We reward every step of a process and then wonder why we can't even finish the goal. We expect others to cater to our wants, and not realize that we breed entitlement, even in those that work hard and try hard... they become expectant that just normal, everyday, grown-up activities should get them some type of "extra credit." And people indulge that behavior. We are undisciplined. We create things like "cheat days" because we know that our mentality needs to feel like it's getting something it shouldn't. We do well, then we cheat??? We starve, then gorge. We are disciplined, then we take a break.
Those are just a few examples, but one of the worst is that w are also "have it right now" society and we have bred that expectation and culture since the industrial revolution. We do not want to strategically plan, lay the foundation, and then do the work to see results. We dont' see far, as in see past generations of work and planning to the future of the Earth. We want convenience and gratification today. The devil specializes in presenting us with opportunities for instant gratification while promising us that indulging our appetites will bring us the satisfaction we seek. But they don't. Over- and often-indulging will make you sick. It will make you fat. It will bloat your processes. It will cripple your speed. It will break your discipline. It will expand your materialism. It will twist your sensuality.
Appetites are not bad. Human appetites, in and of themselves, are not sinful, nor are the activities taht go with each a sin. In fact, they're God-given, God-ordained, and God-approved. However, because WE as humans tend to take one of a good thing and corrupt it by making it the sole focus, the greater purpose, and something we cannot control... we make sin out of them. Because of our fleshly weaknesses, they need to be controlled. Do you think sex is bad? No, of course not. Sex is great. But people get addicted. They begin to twist something very good into obsession. They being to have a harder time being pleased with something and they need to take it to a different level. Their boredom and complacency begins to make them want different partners, to do harmful things, and to want to make it something it was never intended to be. Food is the same way. Food is merely fuel... but when you make it a great focus of your life... when you make food a reward system for your behavior... you can eat "x," if you accomplish "y." That's crazy. Food is for your body. Not reward for your action. Food isn't your comforter. If you eat to negate negative feelings... you will create an emotional link between how you feel and the food you tasted and smelled when you were feeling that feeling. When you do that repeatedly... it becomes more and more ingrained in you. The examples can go on and on...
When our appetites rule us, we become something of a slave. We are not in control and we are not able to rationally do the tasks we need to do in front of us. We're in trouble. Paul equated and gave the analogy that likened the Christian life to that of athletes who are so focused on winning the race that they exercise self-control in every area of their lives. And that is exactly how we're called to live. We have purpose in our lives. We have so many reasons to be grateful, happy, and to be at work on various things... but we don't. We seem never satisfied.
And it's more than just lacking motivation and determination. It's that conditioned response and years of bad behavior that must be modified. It's generations of teachings that just... need to be excavated and demolished and rebuilt in a way that is healthy. If you are weak, you are not alone... we lack the power to do so in our own strength. For this reason, we need to rely on the Holy Ghost. If we yield our lives to Him and step out in obedience to His promptings, we'll have the strength to say no when unhealthy and detrimental appetites and behaviors feel overpowering (Gal. 5:16).
But the bottom line is super simple, and super easy: You can do it. You can actually begin to make small decisions and choices every day that begin to build up to larger changes over time. If you made them all in one day...you may not stick to them. You might feel overwhelmed. But take baby steps. Make one good choice a day. Then add to them.
Love y'all. You can do it.