I got a watch recently that counts my footsteps. For my whole life I’ve never had a clue about the number of steps I take each day, but now I know, and all of a sudden I care. If I reach my goal number, I feel good. If I don’t, I feel less good. I do think my watch is good for me. It’s helping me be more aware of my level of activity, which helps me be more active, which I’m sure helps me be more healthy.
Walking is good, but there’s a lot more to my health than the amount of steps I get day by day. My watch can only measure certain things, and the most important aspects of how my body is working are beyond its ability to tell me about. I could have a severe underlying condition and still meet my step goal, and still get a little celebration on my wrist telling me how healthy I am. It’s even possible that an underlying condition could be made worse by more steps, not better. Thankfully that’s not true (as far as I know), but if it was true, I wouldn’t know it from the metrics on my watch.
So I need to be careful. I need to pay attention to things that can’t be easily measured, not just the things that can. If I start spending my days eating junk and abusing alcohol while slouching on the couch ignoring chest pains, then sure, a walk to get my steps in might be helpful, but it won’t make me healthy. My physical health is more than the numbers I can measure. And my spiritual health is, too.
It’s always tempting to focus on what I can measure in my relationship with God. Things like church attendance, Bible reading, minutes spent in prayer, hours spent in service, and such. Like steps, these practices are good, so setting goals and reaching them is healthy. But like steps, the health of my soul is more complicated than the number of hours I clock in disciplines and good deeds. It’s possible to carry my underlying conditions of pride and stubborn rebellion into the very best of my actions, and these conditions can actually be made worse by my spiritual achievements if I’m not careful. What I need most is a heart that genuinely loves God, not a mind that’s convinced everything is fine because of the metrics it can measure.
I’m not going to stop measuring my steps. Or my time in God’s word. But my goal is deeper than the those numbers—I want a healthy heart. I want a heart that loves God with everything I’ve got. If I miss that, the numbers won’t matter, anyway.