Exercise and Evidence

My sister and I are about the same height and of similar builds although she has always been about 15 pounds thinner than me, and has always eaten about 15 pounds more than me on any given day. On top of that, she rarely exercises, while I make physical activity a purposeful part of my routine.

One day to my horror, she observed, “Your the reason I DON’T exercise.” No how could that be? I was a model example of healthy active habits. I made exercise a part of my routine without getting obsessed. I ate well and enjoyed food, but accepted limitations and portion control as a part of my life.

“What!” I exclaimed, somewhat shocked. I had been working hard to get her involved in my exercise routine, suggesting that we bike together or go for walks after picking up the kids from school. Where had I gone wrong?

“Well, look at you.” She said. “You don’t look any better than me for all your discipline and effort. You eat less, work-out more, and still end up about the same place I am. Why would I bother?”

I had to laugh. She had a point. I might not look any better than her. As a matter of fact, I still weigh more than she does, even if I’m not overweight. My efforts to engage her in physical activity were apparently futile without hard evidence of resulting change.

I wonder sometimes if this might be the hang-up for us in sharing the gospel with the world. I can almost hear our watching culture saying, “Why should I bother with Christianity? You don’t look any better than I do.”  In essence, they are asking, “What difference does God really make? Because I can’t see a big one in you.”

Ouch! This does hit home. If my life doesn’t portray the evidence of holiness that can only come from being with Jesus, then I am bound to trip people up rather than win them over. “Internal evidence” is not enough. Scripture is clear: “They will know you are Christians, if you have LOVE one for another.” What is inside must spill out. We cannot live a life of regiment and discipline and expect to be winsome in our message if we are not exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience….. My testimony must go beyond one of “doing the right things.” It must be a testimony of living in relationship with the right Person. It must give evidence of a Savior who indwells, who empowers, who motivates, and who gives joy beyond all human measure.

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