Like many Americans, I kick off every new year with the goal of implementing healthier habits. For the past three years, I’ve been doing The Whole30 every January, as a way to reset my eating habits. If you’re unfamiliar with The Whole30, it’s basically 30 days of clean eating – no sugar, grains, legumes, or dairy. The goal is to help your body crave the right foods – the ones filled with all the nutrients your body needs to function at its best. Because let’s be real, it can be a struggle to eat the right things all the time, especially when Kelly’s Homemade Ice cream is SO GOOD!
For me, Whole30 provides two benefits: reinstating discipline in my life and trimming off a few pounds that have made themselves at home over the last few months. Little did I know, the first time I did Whole30 a few years ago, the Lord had a third benefit in mind. He wanted to teach me a valuable lesson. In the same way that Jesus taught His disciples through parables, God loves to teach us through life experiences.
As with any new endeavor, one should be prepared before walking into it. I had done some research, prepared a few recipes, and thought to myself, “This can’t be that bad.” Well, I’m here to tell you, those first couple of weeks were much harder than I ever imagined. Why? Because I was denying my body the things that were once so easily and freely accessible. Sugar, bread, pasta, cheese, ice-cream, and the list goes on.
But the day I started Whole30, those things were removed from my house. By Day 3 and 4, I was experiencing headaches from lack of sugar. I was starving within 30 minutes of every meal because my body was not accustomed to “feeling full” from the types of foods I was eating. It was a fierce mental battle against my appetite. I was eating all the “right things,” but my body was in shock and not thrilled with my new eating habits.
As I was craving all the wrong things, a revelation came to me: This is exactly how sin works in our lives. We make every effort to remove it, to separate ourselves from it, yet it comes back with a vengeance – screaming, begging to reclaim its place in our lives. If we’re not filling our minds and hearts with God’s Word, then we are flinging wide the gates for sin to come marching back in.
COVID-19 has wrecked many of our lives. There has been so much loss over the last six months. It’s easy to revert to what’s comfortable, easy, the path of least resistance (and who could blame us?), but God has called us to so much more. And with that calling comes promise, fulfillment, and abundant joy. But it also comes with a fight. Just as I had to fight to eat the right foods – denying myself of what came easily and instinctively – so we have to battle the temptation toward laziness, complacency, and apathy.
In 2 Peter 1:5-8, Peter urges believers to “supplement” their faith with goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. Why? Because he knows how easily we can fall back into the habits of our sinful nature and forfeit growth and maturity in our relationship with Jesus. He uses words like self-control and endurance because he knows how hard it is to fight against the natural tendencies of our flesh.
The dictionary defines a supplement as “something added to complete a thing.” In the same way that many of us take vitamins to supplement our diet, Christians need to carry out spiritual disciplines to complete their faith. This is not an effort to earn our salvation, for God’s love has been freely given to us, but it is the means to maturity and a closer relationship with Jesus.
If we do not supplement our faith with spiritual disciplines, we are in danger of becoming useless and unfruitful as a believer. In essence, if we are not actively moving forward in our knowledge and understanding of Jesus, then we are drifting away, forgetting what Jesus has done for us, and abandoning our role as His life-giving image bearers.
The enemy is no fool. He knows our cravings and sinful tendencies, and he dangles them in front of us all day long. The last thing he wants is for us to be active agents in bringing hope to the broken world. He knows that if we supplement our faith with prayer and God’s Word, we will be unstoppable – not by our own strength, but by the strength of the Holy Spirit living in and through us. We must remind ourselves daily of what God has done for us and let the gospel ignite our hearts with a passion to know Him more.
It’s no coincidence that God designed our bodies to need the right foods in order to function at their best. Likewise, God created our souls to desire the right truths and disciplines in order to function at their best. Unfortunately, we get distracted along the way and attempt to satisfy our hearts with all the wrong things. In the same way that Whole30 helped me get back on track, sometimes our spiritual lives need to be reset in order to shake off apathy and find momentum.
Whole30 was not easy, but the end result was well worth the fight. The same can be said for growing closer to Jesus. It’s definitely not effortless. The enemy will try everything to make us stumble or quit, but as we experience the goodness of God, we’ll value the spiritual disciplines that usher us into His presence. As Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him!”