It came as a shock to recently discover in the gym, that I am a legalist. I mean, I thought that after years of growing in an understanding of grace, and inviting Christ to completely be my Lord and Savior, I had experienced what it meant to live a grace-filled life and have a grace motivation to growing in holy obedience to my Savior.

Gyms come in all sizes and with various options. Some are straight weight lifting. Others have the amenities of an indoor pool, whirlpool and racquetball courts, while the premier ones have indoor tennis and an indoor running track.

The gym I chose has two features that appealed to me:  a low monthly rate (even lower if paid annually) and a section set aside for those wanting to concentrate on an express fitness workout. This section has 10 machines and 10 step platforms. The concept is that only those gym members wanting to do the full circuit of all 10 machines and step platforms are to use this section. A traffic light blinks green or red to indicate when you switch from one activity to the next, through all the 20 steps and you can do all the activities from one to the next as directed by the green and red traffic light, in 30 minutes.

There is a breed of gym users that either can’t read, or don’t care. They come to this section and plop their body on just one of the machines, and then just stay there through various cycles of the green and red traffic signal. They don’t even shift to the step platforms, but tie up their favorite exercise machine. So the rest of those doing the Express cycle have to by-pass the tied up machine when it comes time for them to do that part of their routine.  For someone who might be OCD (which I am not), I am sure it can be frustrating.  I came to resent the chronic abusers of the gym rules.  They were getting in “my” way, using “my” machine when it was clearly “my” turn to advance to that machine.  I was down-right  indignant.  They weren’t “following the rules!”  It was clear that the gym management needed to come and enforce the regulations or throw them out.

Besides my physic, my mental self-righteousness was getting a work-out.

Gradually, as my anger built up, there came a still small voice, that began to whisper alternatives to the pent-up emotions.

“Yes, they are not following the rules.  Yes, this is an inconvenience to you. Yes, you are following the rules and should not have to accommodate those members.”  I liked that part of the still small voice!  However, it continued on. “You can be angry. You can even give them disgusted glances. But have you ever listened to the “rules” but then decided the rules didn’t apply to you and you went ahead and followed your own plans?”  Ouch!  “And did the Lord gently work with you and encourage you to a different choice, one more in line with His will?”  Yes, the Lord has been very good in teaching me the folly of my own choices, while extending grace to lead me back within His will.

I am still frustrated by the gym hogs that get into the express section. But the Lord is teaching me to take a breath, plan an alternate route to finish my routine.  Think some “grace thoughts” instead of dwelling on the inconvenience, and remember that Someone else could have written off the entire planet earth over the inconvenience of sin. But instead, Jesus choose the way of the cross for someone like me, who got the entire righteous life routine entirely wrong.

I am a legalist – saved by grace.  So now I am letting the Lord extend His grace through me and my attitude.


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