For the last few weeks I have been focused on exercise. I quickly have to share that unfortunately this exercise has not been targeting my weight, or my stamina, or even my cardiovascular health. No, all the “sets of ten” have been focused on my knee. Since the replacement surgery, I have been trying hard to regain strength and flexibility in that joint.
And when I say trying hard, I mean it. In order to gain my goals I cry, grunt and scream my way through the lifts, holds, bends and turns. I am making some progress, but not nearly as quickly as I might want.
And yet, as I was thinking about this week’s “musing” I couldn’t help but think of the passage in I Timothy 4:7-8 where Paul urges his young protégé to exercise (some translations may say “train”). He acknowledges that bodily exercise will profit us some, but he goes on to urge us to exercise or train ourselves to be godly. And I saw a very real parallel to the painful exercises I have been doing.
“No pain, no gain” is an expression that most definitely applies to physical exercise, but it also applies to our spiritual growth. Becoming godly is hard work. It takes training, it takes effort, and it takes discipline.
Consider Hebrews 12:11, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Spiritual exercise takes the form of prayer, fasting, the memorization of scripture, good works and meditation. Like physical exercises, spiritual training takes repetition. It takes time to read and memorize God’s word. It takes effort to pray diligently for others. The habit of meditation begins with a simple word of commitment but takes hours of dedicated effort.
So the next time someone mentions the gym, or pilates class or running a half marathon, take a second to think about your spiritual exercise too. Give it some time and effort. God promises that it will produce a harvest of righteousness and peace. And that’s better than admirable abs!