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Getting In Shape

Training For the Christian

“Just one more cookie.”

I don’t know about your home, but ours has begun to overflow with holiday food. It began with an apple pie back in September. In October it progressed to buckets of candy that our kids acquired with glee. And now I’ve found a new gluten-free frosted cookie that I can’t keep myself from.

Yet in just 50 days, many of us will think about resolutions for the new year, and statistically speaking, the most common resolve will be to focus on our physical health.

Our physical health is important, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a kind of health that is even greater than our body fat ratio or our blood pressure, the health of our soul.

The Christian’s Training

The Apostle Paul charges every believer to pursue our spiritual health in 1 Timothy 4:7-8,

“Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

Here is a charge for us not to neglect training in godliness. For the physical body there are treadmills and weights and diets that help us grow in greater health and training for a long life.

So too our spiritual person has means that God has given us by which we are to train in godliness for His glory and our good. He’s given us His word to read and study so that we might know Him more and see what godliness looks like. He’s called us to be a part of the local church whereby we learn from and encourage one another as a coach would an athlete. He’s given us the ministry of prayer where we can come and bear our hearts openly to Him in pleas and thanksgiving.

There are a host of ways that we are called to train ourselves as godly people.

What If?

What a disaster the new year would be if we decided to focus all our energy on losing a few pounds that annoy us over the need to grow in our relationship with God daily? What a horror it would be if we neglected our faith and steered clear of the daily treadmill of God’s Word for us?

What if instead, as Troxel says in With All Your Heart, “the hearts of believers received the same discipline as their bodies, our enemy would behold the best-trained army the world has ever seen”? He’s spot on when he says that

“many Christians would never think of missing a workout at the gym. Yet their spirit is wilting and wheezing.”

What if instead we longed not for a number on a scale but for a clear sense of how we are growing in the Lord, how we are resembling Christ more and more in how we live? What if the Church committed herself to getting in shape spiritually?

A Christian who is not training in godliness is a Christian who is backsliding and whose faith is becoming unhealthy day in and day out. Those “Christians” whom I have known to fall away from the Lord and turn their back on Jesus didn’t do so overnight. It was a gradual process of failing to train in godliness.

Brother, sister, may we be diligent in the shaping of our healthy faith. May we seek and ask God’s help in our growth and godliness. May we long for getting in shape spiritually above all else.

What exercise in godliness can you train in today? It holds “promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

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