Work It Out: How To Train Spiritually
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV
Do you like to work out? I do to some extent. There’s something really great about feeling physically tired and pumped up all at the same time. Yes, your muscles ache, but your body’s soaking in the adrenaline flowing through your veins. It’s a good tired. I didn’t always feel this way though. For many years I struggled with my weight and viewed exercise as the way to fix myself. It wasn’t a healthy view of exercise, but it did help guide me to the place I am today.
I wrote about my health journey in a post titled, A Healthier Me: Faith, Dreams, And Starting Small.
The struggle is still real for me some days, and I have to focus on why I want to be healthy all over again. Just a practical tip for those of you who also struggle to stay motivated to work out: find what works for you. I’m serious. You have to enjoy your workouts to keep them up. You’re not going to enjoy every workout or want to do every workout, but if you’re doing things you like, you're more likely to stick with your goals. For me, it’s walking ( I love walks!), weight lifting, and running (when it’s warm). I’m also starting to experiment with more calisthenics type workouts (very beginner). I change things up A LOT.
Now, why am I even telling you all this? Didn’t I start this whole conversation with a verse about the value of training in godliness over bodily training?
Well, I care about you and I want you to live a healthy life for the Kingdom. I know that to fulfill your Kingdom mission you are going to need the stamina of a healthy body.
Plus, we’re told to steward this body well.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV (the context is sexual purity, but the principle applies)
We have a mission in which we need to be equipped both spiritually and physically.
Training in godliness is vital. We can be the picture of perfect health physically, but if our spiritual lives are weak, you can bet we won’t get very far.
4 Ways To Train Spiritually:
Read and Meditate on the Word- You’ve heard it a thousand times, but it needs to be stated again. If we’re not reading, studying, and meditating on God’s Word, we’re not prepared for our mission in this world. To know God, we have to know His Word. It’s a discipline, but it’s also a joy. God spells out in His written word the grand story of His love for His people and the lengths He’s gone through to restore our relationship to Him. This story is better than any movie, play, or book that’s ever entertained us and it’s Truth.
Sit under solid teaching- Along with our own personal time in scripture, it’s important we’re also sitting under Biblical teachers and preachers. God, gave the gift of teaching for the building up of the body (Ephesians 4:11-12). Sometimes I just need to hear someone preach the Truth, and I’ll pull up a sermon from one of my favorite pastors. I’m always encouraged to run harder and further when there’s someone who's feeding me Truth.
Be a doer of the Word- In the book of James, we see the cost of being a hearer of the Word only, it’s like looking in a mirror and then forgetting what we look like when we walked away (James 1:23-24). The how-tos of training for godliness is found in the Bible, but if we read the words without living them out, we’re not being equipped. We miss the power. But when we live what we read by the power of the Spirit in us, then we begin to look like Jesus.
Talk to God regularly- Do you truly want to be led by the Spirit and trained in godliness? Then you have to prioritize prayer. Paul encourages us in 1 Thessalonians to pray without ceasing (v 17). There’s definitely a time for scheduled prayer, but there’s also value in prayers that roll off the tongue all throughout the day. It’s important we practice both. Again, to know God is to spend time with Him. So, talk and then listen as the God of this universe speaks wisdom and Truth over you.
This little list is so incomplete. There are other spiritual disciplines such as fasting, giving, serving, etc that I didn’t include. But this simple list is a place to start or restart. The others will fall into place as we spend time in the word, sit under solid teaching, be doers of the Word, and pray. Most of us know how to train for godliness, but like our physical training, we’ve fallen off the wagon in our spiritual training. My encouragement to you today is to jump back into your workouts both spiritually and physically. In the words of Nike, “Just Do It!”
Time is short and the mission is now.
Which is harder: staying motivated to train spiritually or physically?
Verses for Further Study:
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV: Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.