Spiritual Fitness

The most common New Year’s resolutions involve some form of physical fitness. People come out of the holiday season feeling a bit “fluffy” and indulgent. So they vow to lose weight and get in shape. This is why most fitness centers offer membership deals at the first of the year. The resolutions to lose weight are the bait and the “best rates we’ve ever offered” become the hook and bada bing, bada boom, people are signed up and locked in for a yearlong contract.

One cold January morning, I was in the gym with all the New Year’s Resolvers and I began to look at the way they were working out. As I did, I noticed that these people fit into three categories.

First there were those who genuinely wanted to exercise, lose weight and get in shape but they didn’t know how to work out. They didn’t know how to use the machines. They didn’t know what body part the machines worked. They didn’t know how much weight to use or how many times to perform the exercise. They just sorta watched someone use a machine and then went to use the machine themselves. Their workouts were sincere but because they didn’t really know what they were doing their workouts would eventually prove to be unfruitful. If the workouts continued to follow this pattern, these folks would eventually quit working out because they weren’t seeing the desired results.

Secondly, there are those who like the idea of exercising, losing weight and getting in shape but they really don’t want to put out the effort necessary to achieve results. This may sound harsh but I assure you I’m correct. This person is evident in the way they exercise. They will get on the treadmill or stair stepper, set it to just about the lowest possible setting and talk on the phone for the 5-10 minutes they are on it. One person actually told me they go at such a low setting and for such a short time because they don’t like sweating. What??

The person is also evident in the way they use weight machines. They never increase the weight they are using on a particular exercise. They will use the lightest weight possible for about 15-20 repetitions. Again the purpose of doing this light of a weight is so that it doesn’t tax them. For these people, exercising, getting in shape and losing weight is an appealing idea but it doesn’t compel them to put out the necessary effort to achieve their ideal results. If the workouts continue to follow this pattern, these folks will eventually quit working out because they aren’t seeing the results they imagine should come.

Thirdly, there are those that want to exercise, lose weight and get in shape that know what they are doing and will put forth the effort necessary to achieve their desired results. These people hit the gym on a consistent basis. They are willing to break a sweat and push themselves. They know what exercises to do and those are the ones that they do. They recognize that exercising, losing weight (and keeping it off) and getting in shape (and staying in shape) is hard work that requires discipline and sacrifice. These people are willing to do the hard work, develop the necessary discipline and make the required sacrifices. These folks will not quit working out because they are seeing the results they desire.

That morning at the gym I had an epiphany. I realized this is how many people are in their spiritual lives.

Some really want to have a deep spiritual life and a close relationship with Jesus but have no idea how to make this happen. They follow the actions of others, take up their standards and convictions but have no idea what these things mean or why they are significant. When this fails to produce the desired results, they give up.

There are also some who only like the idea of having a deep spiritual life and a close relationship with Jesus. These folks will do what they do out of a sense of obligation instead of a desire to draw closer to Jesus. They will do the bare minimum of what they think is required because they don’t want to break a sweat or exert themselves. When this fails to produce the (sorta) desired results, they give up.

Then there are those who want a deep spiritual life and closer relationship with Jesus, know what it takes to make this happen and so they do it. They are consistent in their spiritual disciplines. Sometimes this causes them to break a sweat and sometimes it requires them to exert themselves. These people are okay with this because they know that what they will receive through the sweat and exertion will be worth it. These folks are consistent Christians that never fall back on their commitment to Jesus because they are constantly growing spiritually and deepening their relationship with Jesus.

This week, and probably next week, I’m going to devote my blogging to helping those that fall into the first category and encouraging those who fall into the third category. I’m going to write about basic spiritual disciplines that will enable us grow in our spiritual lives and help us to deepen our relationship with Jesus. But be aware that the path to spiritual growth and a deep relationship with Jesus isn’t easy. It will require hard work, discipline and sacrifice but it’s worth it.

For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV)

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