Spiritual Muscle > Physical Muscle
Read 1 Timothy 4:7-10 (ESV)
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. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
How does strengthening your faith benefit you both in the here and now and for all eternity?
Any athletic trainer will tell you, if you want to gain muscle, you need a plan. In your diet, you need more lean protein. In the gym, you need a weightlifting plan. Of course, it should go without saying that the plan itself isn’t enough. You won’t bulk up unless you execute the plan. You have to train. If you don’t put in the work, you won’t see the results.
We all know that gaining physical muscle is good for us. It helps us control our body fat, increases our metabolism, improves balance and coordination, helps prevent injuries, improves our overall health and decreases our risk for many diseases. But even with all of these health benefits, Paul argued that spiritual muscle is still of greater value than physical muscle. Why? Because physical muscle is temporary while spiritual muscle is eternal. Even so, spiritual muscle can benefit every aspect of your life starting right now.
In today’s verses, Paul does not deny the value of “bodily training.” But he said it only has “some value” while training for godliness has value “in every way.” We know that we can still get injured or sick despite eating healthy and working out. And the older we get, the more readily we accept that our bodies are wasting away.
So while physical muscle has health benefits that fade away over time, spiritual muscle has spiritual health benefits that help us now and for all eternity. Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians 4:16: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
So how do we train for godliness and build spiritual muscle? Well, just like physical training, we need a plan and we need enough discipline to stick to the plan. Several times in the New Testament, Paul compared spiritual disciplines to athletic disciplines. In 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, Paul wrote: “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.” One spiritual exercise for every Christian is practicing self-control and obedience in following the Lord.
But how do we obey the Lord if we don’t know what He taught? Spending daily time in the Word and committing Scripture to memory is as key to gaining spiritual muscles as daily weight-lifting is to gaining physical muscle. The past few weeks, we’ve also studied the importance of the spiritual disciple of prayer. Through spiritual exercises, God transforms us and renews our minds. Day by day, He works through those practices to make us more like Him.
Friends, if we want to get stronger spiritually, we know what we have to do. We have to train for godliness. Building spiritual muscle helps us endure whatever this life throws at us and equips us to share this hope with others! Even better, spiritual exercise is an investment with eternal reward.
Lord, I want to strengthen my faith in You. Help me be disciplined and self-controlled so that I can be dedicated to training for godliness. Day by day, I want to be more like You. You are the goal and prize. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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