How much should I weigh as a Christian?

In recent months, I have become a bit obsessive about stepping onto the bathroom scales every morning before I shower.  It is a daily, self-imposed accountability routine that confirms either the success or failure of my efforts to control my weight.

In my late 30s and throughout most of my 40s, I carried more weight than I should have.  The frequency and intensity of my exercise regimen waned significantly during those years due to nagging knee problems, and far too often I found myself eating because of nervousness or stress.  However, in the last couple of years I have managed to reverse this trend and begin dropping some pounds.  While I still have quite a way to go to reach my target weight, I feel that it is at least within sight, and I am much more thoughtful (intentional!) about menu selections and portion sizes.

A couple of months ago, I took a personal challenge to try to weigh the same or less on January 1 as I did in mid-November, seeking to safely navigate the culinary minefield that surrounds Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the multitude of festive, calorie-laden gatherings in between those holidays.  I was very fastidious at first, but succumbed to “the nibbles” during a few days off at home at the end of December, resulting in a New Year’s weigh-in that was a pound and a half heavier.  In the two weeks that have followed, I have let my guard down even further, reverting to a “grazing pattern” during the evening hours in which I make counter-productive raids on the pantry and refrigerator.  “Be sure your sin will find you out”; in my case, to the tune of another two or three pounds.

On mornings that follow a snacking binge, I struggle with whether or not to get on the scale.  If I do, I know that undeniable evidence of my lack of discipline will be glaring upward toward my face in angry, red digital numbers.  It is really strange that, despite my knowledge that this is just an inanimate electronic device, I feel the urge to “hide” my actions from it, dreading its judgment, condescension, and mockery.  I don’t want to be reminded that indulgence has triumphed over self-control.  In reality, the scale is an extremely consistent, reliable, and objective means of assessing how well I am progressing toward my goal.

But, enough about my physical weight.  How much should I weigh as a Christian?

“We need to stop counting Christians and start weighing them!”

I jotted down that quote a few months ago, and for the life of me I cannot remember where I came across it.  I am very conscientious about crediting sources, and it seriously bugs me that I can’t properly acknowledge the wisdom and insight of the author who issued this timely call to focus less on numerical church growth and more on spiritual maturity and substantive discipleship.  When I confirm the source of the quotation, I will edit this post accordingly.

Faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.  “If you possess these qualities in increasing measure…” (I Peter 2:5-9).  Increasing measure!  What if these Christian graces had some sort of quantifiable mass?  Ideally, I would be gaining spiritual weight and expanding my girth of grace and godliness!

Diet and exercise?  These are essential as well, but they work inversely to their physical counterparts, ensuring that one can pack on those needed spiritual pounds.  “For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.  But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained (exercised) to discern good and evil,” (Hebrews 5:13-14).

How do I assess how I’m doing?  The mirror test can be helpful, looking intently and regularly into Christ’s law of liberty (James 1:23-25).  Honestly gazing into the mirror of the Word, just like looking at the verdict of the bathroom scale, can be a humbling and convicting indicator of whether spiritual disciplines or worldly indulgences have had the upper hand in my life.  When weighing on the scales of maturity and discernment, I don’t want to discover a Belshazzar-esque deficiency (Daniel 5:27) that keeps me classified as a spiritual flyweight or featherweight.

Am I as serious and obsessive about gaining spiritual weight as I am with losing physical weight?

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…,” (Matthew 5:6).

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God…,” (Psalm 42:1-2).

Stay thirsty, my friends!

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