That’s the phrase the family doctor used as he spoke recently with a busy and successful young man in his 40’s who had suffered a heart attack and was going home for recovery. “Take your meds and get a lot of rest, but the real secret in regaining your health and strength is exercise, and lots of it.”
Those were his words and, as we all get a bit older, we hear them often. That wonderful body created by God’s marvelous plan involves intricate engineering driven by details carefully designed by the Master, as Genesis 1:16 says, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” The Psalmist declared it to be “fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalm 139:14. Because it is the house of God’s Holy Spirit, we are compelled and commanded to take good care of that body.
But there is another need for exercise, and that is in a spiritual realm. It is more important, because it affects our preparations for eternity. 1 Timothy 4:6ff tells us how to stay spiritually fit and “brought up in the truth of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.” It begins and ends in spiritual exercise, which Paul calls “godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” We can’t just talk about our faith; we’ve got to deliberately develop a plan for spiritual exercise. God calls us to:
Walk in the light. Our Lord is the light of this world, and we must learn to stay out of the dark and “walk in the light as He is in the light.” When we do so, we share a wonderful fellowship in and with Christ and find that forgiveness and peace in Him. See 1 John 1:7. In a busy world filled with “potholes” as well as blessings, we must hear Paul in Ephesians 5:15 “Be very careful, then, how you live.” Yes, we are called to “live by faith and not by sight” in 2 Corinthians 5:7, but that simple command assumes that our eyes are wide open and fixed on the source of faith, His holy Word!
Lift Up Your Eyes and See the opportunities and joy of Christian living. Psalm 123:1, “I lift up my eyes to You, to You Whose throne is in heaven.” To those disciples who were absorbed with earthly needs and endeavors, Jesus tells them in John 4:35, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
Arm Yourselves and Be Ready for the challenges and battles that lie ahead, for you and I know that they are coming. Peter explains in 1 Peter 4:1,2, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude.” It means putting on the “whole armor of God”, Ephesians 6:13. Only then are we prepared and ready.
Subject My Body Daily with the exercise that comes from personal discipline and purpose, 1 Corinthians 9:27. This is what we have to do with our spiritual bodies. Discipline and bring it into subjection to God’s laws. We do it by “desiring the sincere milk of the Word” 1 Peter 2:2 and then the “solid food/meat” in Hebrews 5:14 that is for the mature who, by constant use have trained themselves to distinguished good from evil. Weakness comes from a diet void of God’s Word, our spiritual nutrition. Finally, running is necessary for good spiritual health. The Hebrew writer calls us to “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith”, 12:1b-2a. And as the way gets long and our years many, Isaiah 40:31 promises, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
If we are going to maintain good healthy souls, we must be certain to get the right amount of spiritual exercise. Only then can we be ready to work and serve Him Who died for us. It is the only way to stay faithful and strong in times of storms and challenges, to be healthier and happier as long as our days last.
~~ Gary Montgomery, (adapted)