Did you notice through the month of December how many TV commercials there were that offered special deals for joining a gym? There have even been quite a few in the first weeks of January. Why have there been so many? Because the gym owners know that many people make a New Year’s resolution to start an exercise program, lose weight, and get in better shape. That resolution is definitely commendable. While going to the gym regularly for a number of years, I have noticed an interesting trend. At the first of each year the gym is always more crowded because a number of new people show up. Going into February and March, the numbers start thinning out. By summer, it’s pretty much back to the same old crowd who are always there year after year. Making that New Year’s resolution is a great first step. Sticking to it is the hard part.
It seems as if Jesus refers to this difficulty in the faith realm with His parable of the sower in Luke 8. Speaking of the seed in the rocky ground and in the thorny ground, He says in 8:13-14, “And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.” Jesus teaches about people who begin as Christians with the resolve to do well, but then they fail to stick to it. Why do they fail to stick to it? Jesus identifies the problem of “testing,” and the problem of “the cares and riches and pleasures of life.” Becoming a Christian is a great first step. Sticking to it is the hard part, especially if people think it should be an easy, fun, and entertaining experience as so many do in our society.
God never said true faith will be easy, fun, and entertaining. It is joyful because we know we are saved when we believe and obey God. It is comforting because we know God is always with us. It is encouraging because we know God will keep His promises to us. Never give up! Remember these words from Hebrews 12:1-3, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”