"Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers."
1 Timothy 4:7-10 from The Message
As cadet athletes, you know the time and discipline it takes to be physically fit. You run, lift, practice with your teammates, pay close attention to your coaches. You know what it takes to be academically fit. You study. You work hard. (You occasionally spin the spurs for luck). What does it mean to be spiritually fit? What does that look like in your every day life?
How are you to train yourselves for godly living?
What are the exercises in which we are to engage in order to produce and maintain spiritual fitness?
Lord, be with us as we work on building our spiritual muscle.
Guide as as we run the eternal race.
Protect us as we lead with character and righteousness. In your name, Amen.
Communication with an invisible God is a spiritual muscle that grows stronger with regular exercise. Enduring values like faith, hope and love are spiritual muscles that become flabby without regular and disciplined exercise. To be spiritually out of shape and think you can be at your best for God is like running a marathon without training and thinking you’ll win. It just won’t happen. God wants us to run to win! So, we must pay the price of tough spiritual training.
You know the thrill of a critical play in a game. The team needs three yards to keep the winning drive alive, and the ball is handed to you. All your hard work in preparation for this game - strength training, running, conditioning, and mental commitment - comes into play at that moment. You are prepared and you make it happen!
Now carry that over to your relationship with God. In life’s crucial situations - temptations, disappointment, tough decisions - your regular exercise of spiritual muscle will help you to stand tall for what is good and right - even under the pressure of adversity. This is the game of life we’re playing! One day your troops will be counting on you to make the right decision.
God’s grace in our lives enables us to grow stronger. That doesn’t mean that growth is painless. Growth calls into action new parts of our minds, emotions, and bodies. What we experience at these times often feels like pain. We are not used to stretching ourselves in these ways, but that comes as no surprise to you. You remember what you felt like after the march back, after conditioning runs, after hard games. A commitment to Christ and obedience to his commands stretches us beyond ourselves, and that hurts! But in the big picture, this growing pain leads to strength. This is spiritual muscle. This is running to win.