bits from bob....

Are You in Shape Spiritually?

by Robert J. Young
©, 2001, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

"Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise both for the present life and the life to come" (1 Tim. 4:8).

At times it seems the holidays never stop in our nation. One holiday season of feasting, snacks, candy, and general excess turns into another. It comes then as no surprise that physical exercise is big business in our country. People are into exercise--running, jogging, health clubs. People especially turn their attention to physical exercise as the new year begins. Many resolutions have to do with exercise, weight loss, and general physical health. In our text, Paul claims these things are of some value.

The subject of this article is spiritual exercise. How is your spiritual health? Are you in "shape" spiritually. Can you do what needs to be done? Can you do what God wants you to do? Our spiritual "shape" involves five things.

S--I am spiritual. I recognize and honor my spiritual existence. I am made in the image of God. God's spirit dwells within me. The image of Christ is being formed in me, I am being transformed. I live as Christ lives in me. Spiritual awareness builds my godly character and my commitment to spiritual health. #1--commitment. I am committed.

H--Being in shape spiritually requires heart. This is my conviction that it must be done, that spiritual health is essential. My heart is the root of my motivation. #2--desire. I want to.

A--Those beginning a physical exercise regimen usually want to start rapidly but need to start slowly. Why? Because one who is not in shape cannot do much. Being in shape spiritually requires strength and skill development. I must cultivate by God-given talents and abilities. I must develop my spiritual gifts. #3--ability. I am able.

P--Continuing spiritual exercises requires an understanding of my purpose. I must have a perspective on why I must do it. The most frequently used word to describe that fact that God has a purpose for me, for this church, for each of his children is mission. What is my mission? #4--purpose. God wants me to.

E--Education and experiences enable effective spiritual exercise. Being committed, having desire, developing abilities, aligning with God's will are not enough. I must know what to do. What should I do? What does God desire? How do my commitment, desire, abilities, interests, inclinations, opportunities, and service connect? This is knowledge, wisdom, discernment of the spiritual realm by spiritual people.

Opportunities are all around us. Are you ready? Do you need to get in shape? Why not begin your spiritual exercises this week as you commit to increasing time with God in the silence of solitude. Talk with him and listen to him (prayer, study, meditation, even fasting). Cast off the hindrances (simplify your life) so that you are prepared for submitting to God and serving.

Let's get "in shape spiritually." As we worship, let each confidently seek and find God in confession, submission to his guidance, and celebration of his presence in our lives.

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Last updated February 21, 2001.