Friday, March 9, 2012

The Spiritual Point System

I’ve been dieting since early fall of last year. I’m not sure if it’s okay to mention the name of the diet program I’m on, so I’ll just say that it rhymes with Eight Atchers. And it begins with W.

I’m the sort of person who works well with charts and graphs and numbers, so this plan is working pretty well for me. Every food is assigned a point value—most fruits and vegetables, for example, are 0 points, but a 6 oz. steak with blue cheese crumbles (sigh) is 13 points. I can eat whatever I want—if I stay within my allotted points for the day. Cookies? Sure. Spoonful of peanut butter? If I want. But I’ll have to adjust the rest of the day around those choices.

13 points!
I’ve pretty much memorized the point values of foods that I eat frequently, but sometimes I have to look a food up on the online chart. You might be interested to know that the default measurement for ‘butter’ is 1 pound—95 points. Well, there goes my eating plan for that day.

If I want to eat a little bit more than my allotment for the day, I can rack up some activity points. I’ve been doing a lot of virtual bicycling on the Wii I got for Christmas. If you want to know the best route through that pesky volcano, I can help you out.

The bottom line (ha! bottom line) is that I’ve lost over 30 pounds, and although I have a long way to go, I haven’t felt this fit and energetic and virtuous in quite a long time. Sadly, as I’ve lost weight, the evil Eight Atchers people have determined that my daily point allowance should go down. If I keep going at this rate, one day I’ll go to the program’s website and find that I only get 5 points for that day. A hard-boiled egg and a piece of unbuttered bread. Meh.

Sometimes I think it’s too bad that there’s not a point value for spiritual disciplines. Spend half an hour in prayer—6 points. Read a chapter of the Bible—2 points. Church attendance—5 points. Tithing—7 points. We should get points for other things, too, like showing kindness, or resisting temptation, or humming Shout to the Lord on the way to work.

7 spiritual points
We could have a certain number of points to earn every day, depending on our spiritual maturity. Baby Christians might only have to earn 5 points—two chapters of Habakkuk and a quick prayer would do it. More grown-up Christians might have to earn 20 or more, but backsliding (you said what to that driver who cut you off?) would cost you. There goes 3 points—figure out how to make them up. Maybe a extra ten-spot in the offering plate.

I might do pretty well with a system like that, since I generally lack spiritual discipline. If I had a point total to aim for, I might be a better Christian.

On the other hand…

I’ve been a Christian for lots and lots of years, and I’ve certainly had a few days where I earned dozens of spiritual points. Wonderful days, overflowing with prayer and praise and good works and giving and closeness to God. But I’ve also had some 0-point days, and some days when my points went into the negative column.

I’m so glad that God’s not keeping track, and that in all of my days—the 0-point ones and the 100-point ones—He loves me, just the same.

Psalm 66:16-20

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!


  1. I'm so glad he doesn't keep points, either. "Not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us." (Titus 3:5)

  2. Yes! "Praise be to God."
    So thankful that He loves me, just the same!
    Jan, thank you sharing this wonderful devotional. Hugs!

  3. I would have to have a calculator at the ready to keep track of my ups and downs. "His grace still amazes me" comes to mind. Congratulations on your weight loss, BTW :)

  4. I'm so thankful that Lord Most High has accepted me with all my failures and never withholds His love from me. Thank you for the reminder, and I'm glad He doesn't keep points. Praise Him for His mercy!

  5. Praise the Lord for the fact that he does NOT keep track (and I'm like you - I would LOVE that point system - for anything!). Thanks, Jan!

  6. First, congrats! 30 pounds??? That's a lot of cycling. :) Good job. And second, Amen. And yet, in a way, we do earn points, internally. Spend an hour in prayer, we get an extra point of patience. Spend an hour reading Scripture, we get an extra point of wisdom. hahaha. But I agree, sooo glad God doesn't dish out grace based on my merit.

  7. OH, Amen! My pastor makes a similar reference - the "Sunday School Envelope" with its check boxes. Brought my Bible - check. Brought an offering - check. Invited a friend - check. He reminds us that those check marks add up to nothing on God's calculator. Oh, and losing 30 pounds, taking good care of God's temple? 100 points for Jan!!! :-)

  8. Congrats for one. That's hard work.

    And second, how awesome we can rely on God's love no matter what.

    An encouraging reminder that is sometimes hard to accept.

    Hugs . . .



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