It was another hot afternoon in the Palaestra*. As always, it was full of many naked or near-naked people. There was an organized team of young men with rippling muscles, bending and twisting their bodies in unbelievable ways, preparing for the Olympic games. The sun was beating down mercilessly on them as they trained and gained muscle discipline, but they didn’t seem to mind the heat.
Paul was getting some fresh air by the window of his house’s 3rd floor when he observed the excruciating pain these men endured just to master their art. The scene struck a chord deep in the heart of the Apostle of the message of Christ. The picture stayed with him that evening as he wrote his letter to a younger Apostle named Timothy. He told Timothy to “not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness” (1 Timothy 4:7 New Living Translation).
He literally told Timothy to train naked! Of course, in a spiritual manner of speaking. The word he used is where we got the English word Gymnastics.
What does it mean to ‘train naked?’
If we want to grow spiritually, getting rid of addictions has to be part of our goals; and if we must get rid of addictions, we will need to strip away things that trigger us to practice such habits.If we want to grow spiritually, getting rid of addictions has to be part of our goals; and if we must get rid of addictions, we will need to strip away things that trigger us to practice such habits. Click To Tweet
I know we never like to hear this because of the inconvenience that change brings but there is no other way to break free and stay free of addictions than to avoid the things, people, places, or even moods that drag us back into unwholesome patterns. This may mean different things for different people but there are common principles.
It’s up to you
Let me quickly point out that just as Paul told Timothy to train himself, the responsibility to change rests on you and me. I know for a fact that after my coach shows me the perfect form to assume in a type of exercise and the number of reps to do; it is entirely up to me to go on doing those things day after day to get the kind of body I desire.Paul told Timothy to train himself, the responsibility to change rests on you and me Click To Tweet
You must see the reason now to be motivated to stop negative cycles in your life. And guess what? It’s never too late. Many people believe they won’t get stuck on sugary products or porn because they are part of the lucky few who can use and not get addicted. These people realize there is a problem only when they can’t stop seeking sugar sources despite knowing its adverse effects or when they are watching porn at work, looking on females in a sexually dirty way or withdrawing from people either to get more of the substance or because of the shame they feel.
When you finally decide to go on the process of breaking free you must remove things like magazines, websites, and search history that will tempt you. In another case, you might need to get rid of your stockpile of junk foods and snacks. You could go for smoothies instead of carbonated drinks. Inform some of your friends that you won’t be practicing those things with them anymore. If you need to cut off some of them please do. Another thing is to watch your mood.
There is a common acronym that cuts across all the different types of addiction: HALT- Hungry, Angry, Lazy, Lonely, Tired. You are most likely to slip back into your bad habits when you feel any of these emotions. You can help yourself by doing a variety of things like eating moderately, meditating, praying, exercise, playing games, sleeping, talking to someone, cleaning your room or doing any productive thing to distract your mind.
Let’s do a quick recap:
- you will need to decide to change from your own mind if you will achieve lasting change.
- The benefits are better spiritual living, effectiveness in ministry and work, better relationships.
- Removing triggers will be very helpful in helping you make progress.
- Be prepared to have moments of great difficulties or even failures but don’t ever look down or condemn yourself.
Let me say this: You, as a believer, are already made clean by God and He will never stop loving you no matter what you do. It will be lovely to hear your success stories because I know they will come!
*Palaestra is a sport school in Greco Roman times