The year is all but half over. Did we make a New Year's resolution for 2010? Were we among those who vowed to "become fit?"
Perhaps determined to improve both our health and appearance, we mapped out a regime of knee bends, squats, sit-ups, early morning walks, jogs and/or trips to an exercise facility. We may have even uncovered the various pieces of home exercise equipment that have not seen the light of day for months, maybe even years! Our diets were overhauled and the calorie intake carefully watched. For a while, we showed great resolve, unfortunately, as the days passed, our determination weakened and soon our resolve faded, becoming nothing more than another unfulfilled resolution of the past.
Without doubt, exercising and eating properly can lead to numerous medical benefits, and striving to maintain good health is both commendable and recommended! But what about our spiritual health? How do we stay fit for God?
Apostle Paul provides us with the answer in I Timothy 4:7-8. "... exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." Paul is telling us not to become obsessed with our physical appearance to the point of neglecting our godliness!
Still, what does Paul mean by "exercise thyself ... unto godliness"?
Let's examine physical exercise first. Deciding upon a form of exercise, maybe swimming, aerobics, cycling, walking, or jogging, we begin slowly building our physical bodies. We swim half a lap, bike around the block, or run a short distance. Soon the distances will increase. As we work-out, little by little, we build a sturdy foundation upon which to push ourselves to excellent physical fitness!
Likewise, the first step in our godliness strength training is building on a foundation, the solid foundation of Jesus Christ! "For other foundations can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (I Corinthians 3:11) Unlike a potentially shaky physical base, the foundation of Jesus Christ is the "rock of our salvation" (Psalm 95:1), the bedrock of godliness!
In order to loosen-up muscles, a series of warm-ups usually precede a daily exercise routine. Believers, we also need to daily 'limber-up' by kneeling in prayer, asking for continual strength to obey, for lasting stamina to serve and for the courage to witness to the lost! Simply put, we need a cardiovascular boost so our hearts strongly beat for Jesus!
We must become marathon runners for the Lord! In I Corinthians 9:25 Apostle Paul speaks of running for the prize or reward. Unlike a physical race, where everyone races to be the lone victor, every Christian can become a winner on the racetrack of godliness! "... and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor." (I Corinthians 3:8) No one loses when striving to be like Jesus!
Nonetheless, we must walk before we run! Sitting on the couch of Christian complacency gets us nowhere! To begin our spiritual fitness regimen we must strengthen our daily Christian walk. We must: walk as Abraham, in faith (Romans 4:12); walk in love as did Christ (Ephesians 5:2), walk in the Light of the Lord (Ephesians 5:8), and confidently walk in trust (III John 4)! Encapsulated, we must walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (Col. 1:10) and pleasing to God (I Th. 4:12)! As our walk strengthens, so will our godliness!
Certainly, looking and feeling good attribute to our everyday well-being, but it is transitory in nature, only beneficial for a limited time. "For bodily exercise profiteth little ..." Even if we do not exercise and eat properly, and our bodies are a bit flabby, overweight, and/or showing the negative effects of aging, one day every born again believer will receive a new body, one wholly free of weak knees, bad backs, crippling arthritis, dementia, cancer or any other physical problems, large or small.
Imagine! We will have perfect bodies in Christ! "For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven: from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." (Philippians 3:20-21)
We must bend to God's perfect will and continually stretch in pursuit of God's flawless standard. (Matthew 5:48)
Nancy Hamilton is an author of Christian books. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people.