Monday, August 30, 2010

Exercise

(1 Timothy 4:7–9) But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.
8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.  
As I write this, I am in "cool down mode."  That means that I need to be careful not to drip sweat onto my laptop.  I've completed my morning exercise routine - the one I try to do three times a week.  I have worked at this kind of "bodily exercise" for about twenty-five years.  You would think that I would be used to it by now.

Exercise requires discipline because it takes time, it takes physical exertion and it makes you sweaty.  It is much easier to sit in an easy chair and watch TV or read the news on my computer.  It always surprises me when studies show that Americans watch an average of 4 hours of TV a day.  But it doesn't surprise me at all that Americans don't spend four hours a day exercising!

The scripture says "exercise yourself toward godliness."  This would include Bible study, memorization, meditation, prayer and then the practice of godliness in life.  The Greek lexicon says the word translated exercise means "to experience vigorous training and control, with the implication of increased physical and/or moral strength."

Exercising yourself toward godliness is harder than physical exercise.  On the treadmill I can allow my mind to wander and my body will keep going on it's own.  I get the exercise as long as I expend the physical effort long enough. (Don't you wish you could just take a pill?)  But spiritual exercise requires the concentrated attention focused on the truths of God's word and their application to my life.  If my mind wanders while I am reading - then I am not reading and I don't get any benefit.  If my mind wanders while I am praying, then I am not praying.  If I am not focused on my behavior and keeping it in control, then I am not controlling my behavior and not training myself to behave in a godly way.

I continue to apply myself to my physical exercise program because I know the truth that "bodily exercise profits a little."  When I am faithfully exercising I feel better, I have better energy, my weight stays under control and I have better stamina.

But this is nothing compared to the benefits of godliness.  "For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."  The pursuit of godliness is not about the academic knowledge of theological truth, but the knowledge of God Himself and growth relationship to Him.  Surely such a pursuit is worth the time and effort expended - no matter how much that is.  In this pursuit, everything in this life and the next is affected.

You cannot be physically fit if you spend all of your discretionary time sitting on the couch in front of the TV (or computer, etc.)  You cannot be spiritually fit if you never discipline yourself toward godliness through a rigorous program of study, prayer and deliberate obedience.  Both take discipline. 

So set the alarm earlier.  Cut out some other activity.  Find a way to stay focused.  Get others to hold you accountable.  Keep your eyes on the goal.  Measure your progress.  Do whatever it takes.  Even though it is hard, it is eternally worth it.
(1 Timothy 4:7–9) But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.
8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.

1 comment:

Bobbi said...

I started setting the alarm earlier than ANYONE in the house...and as the MomE of two busy little people I can attest to the fact that my body often screams in protest when the alarm goes off. A few things really helped me expend the physical effort to get up...1. YOU told me that reading God's Word had to come before EVERYTHING else...2. I read this poem about God waiting for you, even if you don't show up. Often in the morning I think how rude it would be to lay in bed if the Person I SAID was most important to me (in all the world) was waiting for me downstairs. Not a perfect allegory but you get the point. 3. The realization that if I don't take that early hour I may very likely not get any other during the day!