EL CAJON, Calif. (BP)–Hoisting several hundred pounds of free weights over his chest, famous San Francisco 49er Jerry Rice once said, “I’m willing to make the sacrifices, to do the work. There’s not many out there with my endurance or my desire.”
Some of us lift weights and burn calories for countless hours at the gym. Do we display that same determination in our spiritual lives? Since none of us can become godly by osmosis, we need to learn to exercise our faith. It takes exercise and effort to achieve spiritual fitness.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Can you define faith and how it has worked in your life? Faith isn’t just a biblical term to study. It’s a dynamic principle of living. If we experience it regularly, we will find ourselves in the best spiritual shape of our lives.
How is your faith exercised?
Sit under the teaching of the Word of God every week. In Acts 20:7 we read that the disciples came together on the first day of the week to break bread and hear the teachings of the Apostle Paul.
— 100-yard dash.
Be ready to run to the aid of a hurting soul and demonstrate God’s love. We were not created to live and function alone. We need one another for help and support. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says that “Two are better than one … for if they fall, one will lift up his companion.”
A traditional push-up strengthens your chest and shoulder muscles. Lifting up a person in need builds your spiritual muscles. The Father of mercies “comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). Christians who have been encouraged by God should be the world’s best encouragers.
— Deep knee-bends.
If you want the Lord’s blessing on your life, pray. Paul urges us to “continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it” (Colossians 4:2). It takes effort and commitment to confess your sins before God, and to pray for guidance for yourself and others. Prayer is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it leads to spiritual fitness and vitality.
Lunge into Christian service. When God shows you a need that you can fill, get involved and see the Holy Spirit work through you. “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
Stretch out in faith. As I watched my father stretch his faith in moving from a prosperous pastorate to an unpredictable presidency at a struggling Christian college, I learned that faith is a life-changing truth. As my father stretched way beyond his comfort zone in obedience to God, things began to take shape.
Walk in the Word daily. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Reading the Bible is like exercise. Some days you don’t feel like doing it, but you know it’s good for you. Discipline yourself for godliness by making it a habit to read the Bible every day.
Being consistent in practicing these moves of an active faith is key because a “stop-start” exercise regimen rarely produces lasting results. If you want to make a new start in your spiritual fitness routine, consult your physician — the Great Physician, Jesus Christ. Ask God to help you practice daily spiritual disciplines that will increase your faith.
Runners come to a point where they can hardly put one foot in front of another. But as they press on, their energy is replenished, and they finish the race with a great sense of accomplishment. Likewise, the road of dynamic Christian living requires perseverance.
The Bible provides incredible incentive to persevere: “[T]rain yourself in godliness, for, the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).
Unlike bodily exercise, the benefits of spiritual fitness last into eternity.
David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God, senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif., and chancellor of San Diego Christian College (formerly Christian Heritage College). For more information on Turning Point, visit www.TurningPointOnline.org.