“Ready?” Derrek asked me.
I gulped. Above my head a metal bar rested on a rack. Twenty-five pound weights hung from its ends. I had not tried this much weight before. I gripped the bar.
“I guess so…”
“Okay. Three, tw—“
“Wait, wait, wait!” interrupted an upperclassman, “Hold up. You guess so?”
He pushed Derrek out from behind the rack, leaned over the bar, and lowered his head until our noses were only an inch apart.
“I don’t,” he went from a whisper to a shout, “THINK SO!”
I peed a little.
He pulled up the bar and pushed it towards my chest, nearly cracking my sternum.
He did not have to tell me twice. My little arms shook as they lifted the weight. I finished the first rep.
“You bench like my mamma!” the upperclassman yelled as he shoved the bar back towards me. I raised it again.
“Is that all you got?”
I pressed all ninety-five pounds as far away from me as possible.
“My little sister can lift more than you!”
My arms extended. I gasped for breath, but again he thrust the bar at me.
I slid the bar back on its rack. My tired arms dangled by the sides of the bench.
“What, why did you stop?” my personal trainer interrogated me.
“Because I’m done,” I groaned, “We’re doing sets of five.”
“Oh,” he remarked, “Good work.”
He then stomped over to the adjacent station where a girl was squatting. He proceeded to scream at her.
The funny thing was that I never saw this upperclassmen lifting. He only migrated from station to station, “motivating” others. Most of us determined him a nuisance. His encouragement fell on deaf ears because he never exemplified what he so passionately ordered to do.
Christians are notorious for the same crime. So often we tell each other “just pray more,” “trust God,” or “read your Bible” without actually living these out ourselves. When it comes to others, we harp and barrage them about spiritual discipline like Olympic coaches. However, we treat ourselves like sloths, allowing our hearts and minds to fall asleep to harkening to God’s voice and Word.
Jesus counters this mentality, stating in Matthew 7, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” How are we to inspire others to grow in God if we ourselves are stagnant?
Before Hudson Taylor, a group of British missionaries formulated a small, British colony on the Chinese coast. They developed schools and houses, but they did not fulfill their task in sharing the Gospel to those in inland China bereft of the name of Christ. They expected the Chinese to come to them. When Hudson Taylor arrived at this missionary town, this lazy and comfortable ideology disappointed him. It was as if he had never left Britain!
Taylor strived to understand and love Chinese culture. He put in effort and began dressing and living as if he were Chinese. He then jettisoned from the missionary resort on the coast and pressed towards inland China with the Gospel. Without Taylor’s boldness and discipline, the China Inland Mission would have never been founded, Nelson Bell, Billy Graham’s father-in-law and mentor, would not have led medical missions in China, and the contemporary, Chinese Christian movement would not exist today.
We cannot comprehend the amount God can do with one dedicated person’s life. To fiddle around is to hinder the worldwide spread of the Gospel. We are called to love God and obey Him with all we have. So, let us clear away all deviators of spiritual discipline in our own life, and then we can teach others to do the same.