|Photo by Selmane Cherifi 2018|
When my husband was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, we consulted a nutritionist who specializes in lifestyle interventions used in conjunction with medical therapy to improve cancer-related outcomes.
God has blessed us with a dance ministry, specializing in Theatre Arts dancing in which my husband lifts me overhead. However, the nutritionist pointed out that our dance regimen consists of short, intense bursts of energy while practicing our 3 to 4 minute dance, and that we need to add continuous aerobic exercise for 30 minutes or more.
This would be best accomplished by walking briskly, she said, and recommended goals of 30 minutes daily of continuous exercise, plus 10,000 steps daily, to be monitored using a Fitbit device. Although the goal of 10,000 steps has been touted as showing a survival advantage, it turns out to be rather arbitrary. When the first fitness monitor was released in Japan, its manufacturer named it after the Japanese equivalent for “10,000 step-meter.”
Research studies since then used that goal as a cutoff to define optimal activity and showed benefits in blood pressure, blood sugar, and a variety of other health outcomes. But the CDC has not issued 10,000 steps as a daily goal, instead recommending 150 minutes per week of brisk walking or similar exercise.
The consensus of expert opinion, based on clinical and research evidence, is that more is better. Increasing your daily steps by even 1,000 per day can help if you’re only walking 2,000 steps to start, and if you are already walking 10,000 steps daily, there is no reason to stop there if you desire optimal health benefit.
As the United States celebrates Labor Day this weekend, the festivities, at least in Florida and the Southeast, may be tempered by preparing for “monster” Hurricane Dorian. All of this got me to wondering: how much is enough?
Is 10,000 steps a day enough for my already physically active husband, who regularly does maintenance and yard work on properties he manages? Is staying overtime at work, volunteering for difficult projects, and networking with leaders enough to ensure you’ll get the desired promotion? Will getting a few cases of water and batteries, shuttering the windows, and sealing the doors with sandbags be enough if Dorian hits?
In all these areas of life and more, we can never be sure that we’re doing or trying or accumulating enough to achieve the desired result. But as born-again Christians (John 3:3-8), we know that we can never do enough, or be good enough, to work our way to Heaven.
Praise the Lord, we don’t have to, for He gives salvation as a free gift (Romans 6:23) to all who earnestly call on His Name! (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13). If we trust that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), proving that He is Son of God and God Himself, that is enough!
As the saying goes, religion says “do,” but Jesus says, “Done!” In His last moment hanging on the cross, He cried “It is finished!” (John 19:30) for His death satisfied the demands of holy, righteous God (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). No more animal sacrifices had to be made, for He was the perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 10:1-24), the perfect Lamb of God (John 1:29) Whose blood washes us clean from all our sins (Revelation 1:5).
At His death, the thick veil of the temple tore in two, from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38), signifying that Christ came from Heaven to earth so that sinful man need no longer be separated from Holy God. Now all who trust in His completed work on our behalf as the only Way (John 14:6) to Heaven are guaranteed an eternal home there (John 14:1-3).
Although the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in the Old Testament tabernacle and temple had no seat, because the work of the high priest making sacrifices to cover our sins was never done, our Great High Priest Jesus Christ is now seated at the right hand of God the Father (Mark 16:19; Luke 22:69). His work to save us from the penalty of sin is completed, and it is enough! He is the only One Who can rightly say that He has accomplished all the work His Father appointed Him to do (John 17:4).
When we attempt to add to His perfect work by using our good works or our attempts at holiness to earn our salvation, God sees these as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), as putrid as the used bandage from a leper’s wound. It is a slap in God’s face to point to our good works as a way to be saved, for we are saved by grace through faith, not by works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Nor can we be saved by keeping the law, for we can never be holy enough in our own righteousness. Jesus warned that unless you could be even more perfect than the most perfect Pharisee in obeying the letter of the law, you would be doomed (Matthew 5:20), for we are all sinners, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Only Jesus kept the law perfectly, for He was tempted in all points as we are, yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
The apostle James wrote that even if we are guilty of breaking a single point of the law, it is as if we have broken the whole law (James 2:10). All religions except for Christianity are works-based, leaving their followers with a dreaded sense of uncertainty over whether they have done enough to merit a place in Heaven. Would 10,000 steps on a pilgrimage to Mecca, or 10,000 Hail Marys over a lifetime, or $10,000 paid into church coffers ever be enough?
Praise God, followers of Jesus Christ know that we can never do enough, for we are sinners deserving eternal punishment in hell, yet saved by His grace! Instead of worrying about doing enough, we can rejoice in serving Him more and more, for we can’t outgive God (Luke 6:38). Our baby steps will multiply and strengthen until we are marathon runners for Him, not to be saved, but out of gratitude for how He has changed our life and our destiny (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1).
Our sins are debited against His account, and His perfect righteousness is credited to our account once we have faith in Him (Romans 4:23-24; James 2:23). Then He blesses us according to His riches in glory (Ephesians 3:16), which are always more than enough, for He owns everything! (Psalm 50:7-12). His grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9), no matter what our need!
In trying to meet my fitness goals, I worry that not all my steps are counted by the Fitbit. I take it off at bedtime, so it misses my steps if I get up at night. I am surprised and a little disappointed that a 1 hour tap class only registers as 7 minutes of continuous exercise. But praise the Lord, He keep excellent records!
Every good work I do for Him with the right motive will be rewarded (1 Corinthians 3:9-15), for our labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58). May we therefore be fervent in His business (Romans 12:11) and always abounding in His work!