You’ve seen the infomercials and how, with a little sweat and perhaps some tears, you could have a body like the ones you see on the screen. I am tempted by them every now and then. I think it started when I was in high school and I begged my dad to buy a Bowflex! “I mean seriously” I would tell him, “it’s only 24 payments $79.99…that’s not much, is it.” I’m glad he steered me to push ups, pull ups, and sit-ups…oh and mowing the lawn, and chopping wood…I felt like Rocky in IV!!
I would love to be in great shape…I used to be. I was one of the fastest kids in school and could run all day. I was physically fit…that was then. As I have gotten a little older, I have found that physical fitness is more in my mind. I still THINK I’m in pretty good shape, I still THINK I can drive to the basket with that move I used to use all the time, I still THINK I can keep up with the kids running at the beach. But, as you well know, there is a big difference in what I THINK and what is reality!
You see, if I want to get into shape (which I do) it is going to take more than wishful thinking, more than hoping I get in better shape, even more than thinking about it and how great it would be…It’s going to take some action! I am going to have to decide that it is something I really want to do, then I am going to have to do it! I’m going to have to take advantage of that Y membership I still have. And, it’s going to take some work, some effort, some sweat, some discipline! It’s not easy, but…it is incredibly rewarding!! The results (as I have seen on TV) can be amazing!!
As true as all of that is physically, the Apostle Paul tells us that while physical exercise is of some value, it’s nothing compared to spiritual exercise. Here’s what he says in 1 Timothy 4:7-8, “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come!”
The phrase “train yourself” in the original language (Greek) is literally “gymnaze” where we, obviously, get the word for gymnasium – it means to exercise. He also talks about striving or agonizing. Much like physical exercise, spiritual exercise takes work, it takes effort, it takes discipline. And, in the same way as I mentioned earlier about physical exercise, there is a big difference in wanting, or hoping, or desiring to be strong spiritually and actually doing what is required to reap the benefits of walking closely with God! Make no mistake, this is not something we do to earn God’s favor…He favors us already because of the work His Son did on the cross…Paul is simply talking now about walking in our relationship with God…the process of surrendering our lives and will to Him and allowing Him to work in and through us! That is a daily matter!
Physical fitness is, once again in our society, a craze! People are talking about it, blogging about it, forming clubs and gatherings around it – and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. Paul’s advice is simply that, while it is good, there is something far better…something that has value not only in this life, but for all eternity! I wish there was as much attention put on Spiritual fitness in our society as there is on physical fitness…I think the world would be shaken!!
I’d love to hear your thoughts or comments…join the conversation.