I Hate Doing This

How do we stop doing the things we hate and start doing the things that Jesus loves?

I Hate Doing This
Photo by Meghan Holmes / Unsplash

We all have aspects of our lives that seem frustratingly hard to stop and replace with something good. Why can’t I stop yelling at my kids because I’m stressed at work? Why can’t I start exercising instead of being lazy? Why can’t I run to prayer instead of a fill-in-the-blank coping mechanism that I hate doing?

These are such practical problems, not being lazy instead of working out, not being stressed instead of finding joy and fulfillment, not being overwhelmed, and instead being content and confident. But honestly, these are spiritual problems that God gives us practical solutions to that we often don't often pursue.

2,000 years ago Paul felt the same way we do:

For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me.  For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.  For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do.  Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. Romans 7:15-20

Raise your hand if you can relate with Paul (I have both hands up).

These feelings are frustrating, but I believe the Bible gives us so many practical ways that we can fight this spiritual hurdle with spiritual wisdom.

How do we stop doing the things we hate and start doing the things that Jesus loves?

1.   Value Regularity over Results

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The first step is to read your bible more. Is that the church answer? Yes, but usually the church answer is just the right answer.

Take laziness and gluttony as an example, you may want to eat healthy and exercise, but it is so much easier to sit on the couch and eat junk food. Here’s the deal if you start reading your bible consistently and actually applying it, then this laziness will be met with an incredible amount of conviction because all over the bible are examples of running after Jesus, of leading our families to the best of our ability, to living our lives like tomorrow is not guaranteed, etc. Paul in this passage of 2 Timothy 3 tells his young mentee that he needs to train himself spiritually through God’s Word like an Olympian trains for their event.

No matter what area of your life from addictions to character cracks to lazy mismanagement of God’s resources, when we read God’s Word consistently AND truthfully then it calls us to work towards something. But, here is the key we work like we are training.

Training for an Olympic sport doesn’t happen once a week, it is at a minimum 3 times a day and they are not solely focused on hitting a new personal record every day, but working consistently knowing that it is building habits that sustain past the rough stretches.

Paul told Timothy to train using God’s Word, not just use it in a few important seasons when he really needed it and then move on. When we seek God’s Word consistently it builds in us a discipline that lets that spill over to all areas of our lives and you may not see any results for a while, but you are building compound interest that is molding your character.

The more we do this it bleeds into creating the next step.

2.   Celebrate Rhythms over Rewards

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice Philippians 4:4

It is great to have goals, but sometimes when the goal is the only thing driving us we let off the gas when we achieve it. This happened the first time I hiked the Grand Canyon, where I trained so much in getting ready for it, but then once it happened and I achieved this great reward in my mind, I went straight back to the couch. This also happened the first time I completed a one-year bible reading plan, I was so proud to make it through the year that I “rewarded” myself by taking a month off. The goal of hiking the canyon or reading through the whole bible are great, but the real win in those situations was establishing a rhythm of health.

Paul told the church of Philippi not to rejoice when God shows up really big in their life, but rejoice ALL the time! We always have something to be grateful for in Christ so we should never become obsessed with getting a reward from a goal over establishing a healthy rhythm that is more impactful than we can ever imagine. Think about this from a sobriety standpoint, is the goal getting a chip that says one year sober or the fact that for one full year, there has been sober-minded living?

Our rhythms are so much better than our rewards and we should celebrate them continuously.

3.   Embrace Reputation over Rule

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 3:3-5

We read our bibles to become more holy like Jesus, we exercise to become more fit, we invest in ourselves to become better spouses and bosses, the list can go on and on. As a natural product of creating those rhythms that make us better people, often it leads to having more influence in different aspects of our lives. The thing we must be careful of is not chasing that influence, authority, leadership, or rule over other people and instead chasing our character and reputation.

Paul still today is one of the most influential people in history, I would argue he is the 2nd greatest leader of all time next to Jesus, he started a movement of the church that we are a part of today. But, Paul never used his influence for selfish gain, instead he regularly gave it up because he knew it wasn’t about him. His character was so strong because he stayed committed to doing God’s work and not compromising his ministry for personal gain.

All of us can learn a lesson from Paul that the more we do numbers 1 and 2 of ridding the old stuff of our lives and becoming more like Jesus, the more there will be opportunities to use that for selfish gain. The question becomes are we willing to close those doors of opportunity in order to continue to build our character in Christ?

It can be so hard to stop doing the things we hate in our life that come so easy and start doing the things that Jesus loves that come so hard…but, when we put in the work consistently to do it, the transformation is unlike anything else we can imagine.