"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, April 26, 2013


1 Timothy 4:7b-8 "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."

I try to maintain consistent exercise.  Before you think I am some kind of hard-body iron-woman, think again.  Most assuredly, I do not fit in that category.  My simple routine consists of strength training, kick boxing (I like to think that is what I'm doing), and "crunchies" as my 88 yr. old fit grandmother would say, while performing her 99th sit-up.

Periodically my husband probes me to try something new and different, insinuating I need to change it up and work other muscles.  Last year, I humored him for one day, and one day only, when he insisted I do P90X with him.  Then, I settled back into my comfortable method of squats and leg lifts.  I manage to not really push myself physically but rather maintain my current strength and endurance.  Sound familiar?

I doubt I'm the only one who experiences spiritual comfort from time to time, not wanting to be challenged.  Doing just enough to maintain current spiritual strength and endurance causes us to neglect harder training.  The problem?  Being comfortable spiritually leads to complacency and apathy, leading to stagnation.  When we are spiritually stagnant we won't grow, but merely exist.

1 Timothy 4: 7b tells us to train ourselves to be godly.  Why?  Verse 8 reveals that physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, for both the present life and the life to come.  The word for train means to discipline or exercise vigorously.  Paul uses the metaphor of physical training to show us how we must submit our bodies to the rigors of discipline in order to train ourselves in godliness.

Physical training benefits us now, but spiritual training benefits us now and later.  Physical exercise is good, but it's temporal.  Its' benefits do not transcend time because this body is not going with us (thank the Lord!).  Spiritual exercise has a greater reward because it profits this life and eternity.  It brings about godliness which is beneficial now and makes a lasting investment to come.

God wants us to be spiritually fit so we can experience abundant life in Him.  When difficulty strikes we'll know where we are anchored.  When we struggle with our co-workers we'll be prepared to offer a gentle response.  When there is conflict in our marriage we will seek oneness instead of rightness.  When issues with our children arise we'll be more prone to pray for wisdom.  When the deceiver seeks to defeat us we'll raise our fists and be prepared for battle.

Spiritual contentment should make us feel uncomfortable.  Contentment breeds natural consequences.  We will lose sight of Kingdom living and just go through the motions.  We will easily forget we're created for the purpose of knowing God and making Him known.  We will get lazy in our approach to life and lack motivation or purpose.  We'll blindly go through our day, wondering what we did and fail to recognize real people with real hurts and real needs.  Refocusing our heart to pursue godliness will help equip us to resist spiritual comfort.

Spiritual growth and training is a continual process called discipleship.  A disciple is a doing learner; one who learns spiritual truth and then lives it out.  Many may say, I want to read the Bible more, pray more, commit to Bible study or ___________.  These things won't happen until we discipline ourselves to practice them as priorities.  When we train our hearts and minds to hunger for God and His Word we develop strong spiritual muscles.  We begin to experience a relationship with God that is intimate and personal, beyond a spiritual checklist.

While physical fitness goals are noble, let's be more mindful of spiritual training.  I challenge you this spring to keep yourself spiritually fit.  Let's be willing to submit ourselves to the rigors of discipline in order to train in godliness.  Let's move beyond the spiritual status quo. It's time to pursue God with a desire to know Him intimately and His Word passionately, so that we are fully equipped disciples prepared for His purposes. 

Are you too comfortable?  

Heart Work:
Being too busy often negates time in the Word and prayer.  Make time this week to evaluate your priorities and schedule.  What can you let go of and say "no" to this season in order to discipline yourself spiritually?

What idols may be keeping you from training in godliness?

Heart Exam:
How are you currently training yourself spiritually?  What can you do differently?  What will you do to go deeper and be challenged spiritually?

Are you in a season of contentment and stagnation?  What do you think has led you to this place?

Why should spiritual training be a priority?

Do you want to experience a relationship with God that is intimate and personal, beyond a spiritual checklist?  Get on your knees and start training today.

Heart Transforming Word:
1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (NIV 1984) "Do you know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

2 Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Hebrews 5:13-6:1a "Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.  Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity."

Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen.  Edited 2013.  All rights reserved.

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