When I was in Texas at a conference a couple of weeks ago, I decided I would run each morning with Kate. I didn’t run far, but because I hadn’t run in about 4 months I was VERY sore for the rest of the week! You see, when you don’t exercise much your muscles begin to lose the strength you’ve built in them. Then, when you decide to start exercising again, your muscles basically have to start all over and grow again because you’ve let them get weak. It takes time and effort and it’s not easy. You’ve got to stick with it if you want to see any long term benefits.
In 1 Timothy, Paul acknowledges that this kind of bodily exercise is valuable and important. After all, God’s given us this body and we are to take care of it. However, Paul points out that our spiritual growth is very similar to our physical growth. If we are not exercising our spiritual muscles by reading the Bible, memorizing scripture, praying, gathering with believers, tithing, and so on, then our spiritual life will grow weak. Our faith will grow weak because we haven’t helped it grow by taking huge steps of faith and trusting God. I don’t know about you, but I find myself feeling spiritually weak when I’ve neglected my relationship with God for other things.
In addition, you’ve got to do a full-spiritual-body workout. If all you ever do is leg workouts then your arms will never grow strong. Similarly, going to church weekly is good, but if that’s all you do then you will never grow strong in your personal relationship with God through devotions and prayer. There needs to be a healthy balance of all things (giving, devotions, prayer, etc.) or else you’ll end up strong in one area, but weak in another.
Like Paul said, physical exercise is good and respectable, but spiritual exercise has a much longer term impact! Physical exercise can help keep your body alive and healthy longer on earth, but a relationship with Christ in God will cause your spirit to live on for eternity.
Come up with a spiritual workout routine for yourself. How much will you tithe each month? When will you spend time in personal devotions with God? When will you spend time in prayer with God? Where else can you get involved at church?