My friend Tom McCall does a fitness training program and in the last year I've seen it grow into something incredible. But lately it's gotten pretty serious. So serious that his wife Andrea has recently broken some records in lifting. The cool part is that although they are killin’ it as a couple Tom uses his gift to help people in the community reach their fitness goals. But behind the scenes I know they go the extra mile and make exaggerated efforts to make sure people reach their goals.
Have you ever been to the gym and see the people that go ALL OUT and you're like, “Why am I even here? I’ll never be able to get there...” and maybe at that time you just stop and start watching the TV in front of the treadmill OR you just stop going altogether? Or maybe you're the person that goes ALL OUT and walks around knowing it and flexing. Or maybe you're the person who can go ALL OUT and you're willing to help those reach their potential.
I believe God has some incite for us in Luke 18:9-14. “The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector” 9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Here we have two people, very close to each other physically but at the same time very far from each other. In other words we have the proverbial Pharisee “meathead” bragging about his "bench" and thankful that he's not as weak as the one struggling on the "bench” aka the Tax Collector. In verses 11-12 I can imagine seeing the Pharisee flexing and posing in the mirror of his own righteousness and works. Then in verse 13 I can see the Tax Collector struggling on the bench. I then get an image of Christ smiling at the one “struggling on the bench” because he’s a member at “the gym of life” knowing he can't lift life on his own because he needs the Holy Spirit as a spotter. And I see an image of Christ giving the screwface look to the “meathead” saying, “C’mon man, you were there several times. In fact there was a time that you used to need a spotter.”
-Do I even “lift” to where I realize I still need a spotter?
-Do I even notice weights in my life and others that I need to lift in prayer and in action?
-Do I even lift the cares of close friends in prayer and in action?
-Do I even lift the cares of those I come in contact with in prayer and in action?
-Do I even lift the cares of my city and the ones who look, act and behave differently than me in prayer and in action?
-Do I even lift the cares of the world that I live in in prayer and in action?
-Am I looking in the mirror of my own righteousness and looking down at others who are struggling to lift bro?
This type of self reflection will cause us to become slower and speak and quicker to listen.
The moment we put totally put our trust in Christ alone for salvation was the moment we realized we couldn't lift on our own and needed a spotter. Sometimes when we are removed from having community with others in the “gym of life” we forget Luke 18:9-14. We tend to walk through the “gym” of our communities or social media feeds and look down on those who don't lift like us and forget that we need a spotter too.
So you could have the proverbial Pharisee “meat head” approach or come alongside a “Tax Collector” like Tom and Andrea and disciple them through the lifting process.
For the record… Give me a fellowship of tax collectors helping tax collectors who know they can't lift on their own and know they need a spotter… they may not look as “attractive” while staring all day in the mirror of righteousness but they tend to be more humble and helpful.
What's your bench press like?