That is my question.
Many of you already wear an activity tracker device. You have an Apple Watch, Fitbit, or a Garmin running watch. And I’m considering joining you.
I like to set goals.
I like to work out.
I like to record my progress.
So a Fitbit seems like an obvious purchase.
But I’m apprehensive about taking this step. It’s not just the cost or the hassle of checking and charging another device. I’m apprehensive because I don’t think I need another device pointing out my weaknesses and failures. And I don’t know if I want another device that’s going to fuel my idolatrous desire for the perfectly fit body.
I’m already aware that I’m not who I’m supposed to be. I know I don’t exercise enough. I know that I need to take more steps. I know that I need more sleep. I’m already trying to make all the right choices. I’m trying to perform at a higher level every day. But it’s exhausting. And I’m afraid that a Fitbit will be an ever-present judge, reminding me that I’m not good enough, like walking around with the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments everywhere I go.
Yet I know I can’t give up on my health entirely. If I stop exercising, sleeping, and eating right, I’ll ruin my health altogether. And when I track my progress, I seem to stick to better habits and enjoy some improvement.
The tension I have with wearing a Fitbit leads me to think about the daily tension of living the Christian life. We’re broken sinners who seem to have an incredible capacity to screw things up. We take good gifts of God and obsess about them, break them, or abuse them. Our bodily health is just one example.
And yet we can’t give up. We have to keep setting goals, improving, and protecting the good gifts God gives or our whole lives will completely fall apart.
So how can we find peace and relief from this tension?
The apostle Paul speaks about this in his famous confession in Romans 7. He describes his internal life like a wrestling match. He wants to do good, but he keeps doing the bad. He doesn’t want to do what is evil, but he can’t seem to do what’s good consistently.
Where does he find peace? He shouts, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25). Paul finds peace in knowing that Christ has delivered him from all his failures. That in Christ, God is happy with Paul.
If you keep on reading, Paul goes on to say that this peace in Christ allows him to keep on trying, to keep on progressing, to keep on striving for a new and holy life. He believes that he is getting better. And when Jesus returns, he will transform our lowly bodies to be like Christ’s glorious body (Philippians 3:21).
So what does this look like practically? How do we enjoy the freedom and peace of Christ as we strive to live better lives? One important practice for me is taking a day off. What the Bible calls a Sabbath. Although the Bible doesn’t say we need to follow the rigid rules of Old Testament Sabbath laws, I do think we can learn from this custom.
For me, taking a day off is a visible reminder that I don’t always have to perform and improve. I try to take a day to worship the God who has given me everything as a gift. I remember my God is always at work so I don’t have to be.
Because Jesus rested in death and the grave, I can rest in his grace and love.
Then, when the Sabbath is over, I get back to work. I exercise. I set goals. I fulfill my responsibilities.
And, hopefully, I do this all to the glory of God’s name, empowered by his Spirit, motivated by Christ’s sacrifice.
So maybe I’ll get a Fitbit. But even my Fitbit will need to practice the Sabbath.
Pastor Ben Sadler has served as a full-time pastor since 2010. He began his ministry at a Spanish-speaking congregation in Florida. From 2014 to 2019, he served at Goodview Trinity Church in Minnesota. Currently, he is at Victory of the Lamb in Wisconsin. He is married to Emily, and they have three children. Ben loves to spend time with his family, ride his road bike, read, write, and preach.
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