Tonight we have exercise class at church. I really love the fellowship and fun with my church family, but my body absolutely dreads it.
I realize how important exercise is for my heart and my muscles. I know how necessary exercise is for effective body function. I know how crucial it is, and still…
I don’t like pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I don’t like stretching beyond my limits. I don’t like being uncomfortable.
My battle for physical fitness wages on.
But I wonder how often you and I consider our spiritual fitness?
But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. – 1 Timothy 4:7-8
Paul urges Timothy to exercise himself towards godliness because godliness is valuable for all areas of life, whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. Godliness strengthens us, not only for this life, but for eternity.
While there are many similarities between physical and spiritual fitness, physical fitness only leads to a physical outward transformation. But spiritual fitness leads to a divine inward transformation which also shines through in our outward speech, attitude, and behavior.
Every person has the exact same number of muscles. However, some have exercised to develop, stretch, and enhance those muscles. Romans 12:3 tells us that God has given every believer a measure of faith. Like our muscles, we are able to exercise, develop, and stretch our God-given gift of faith. Even the smallest amount of faith is much in the hands of God!
Imagine God’s gym. God’s desire is to train us, strengthen us, and grow us to become more like Jesus. God uses everything in life, every circumstance and every relationship, as the gym equipment to make us fit.
Our fitness trainer is the Holy Spirit. He knows us inside out – our strengths, our weaknesses, and our potential. He knows exactly how much weight we are able to lift and carry. He knows exactly how much potential we have to endure. He knows exactly how much strength we need right now in order to face the trials ahead of us. He motivates us when we are lazy. He encourages us when we are weary.
Our fitness plan includes resistance training. God places us in uncomfortable circumstances that shift us out of our comfort zone in order to purge us of pride, arrogance, and self-reliance.
He also offers strength training, strategically weighing us with burdens that force us to stretch our faith and seek Him in confidence.
God puts us through endurance training – encouraging us to run our individual race at our own pace. We need endurance to keep standing and pressing forward in faith when times are hard.
With diligence, effort, and consistency, in His time, we are being transformed. With physical exercise, our desire is to look like a better us. With spiritual exercise, our desire is to become more like Him. As we press forward, we gradually shed more and more of ourselves, while we gain more and more of Him.
Godliness does not come easily. It isn’t always comfortable. The path doesn’t always lead to instant gratification. It stretches us in areas we never expected. However, the reward for sacrificing everything for Jesus brings eternal joy and far outweighs the fleeting happiness of anything else this world offers.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:29-31
A believer’s greatest privilege is to present our bodies and our lives to God to be used by Him. The key to victory is to simply surrender all that we are and all that we are not to God.
I despise exercise, but I love the Lord. So each day, I choose to surrender all my ‘can’ts’ and ‘won’ts’ to Him. In exchange, He lovingly equips me with new mercy, unlimited power, and increasing strength to remain in His will.
Our battle for spiritual fitness wages on.
In what circumstance is God exercising your faith? How can we pray for you as you passionately pursue godliness?