Despite my highest hopes and most fervent desires, I wasn’t endowed with natural athletic ability. I like to tell people that when I played intramural basketball in college, people would ask me after the game, “Ever thought about becoming a bricklayer? Because you shoot nothing but bricks.”
Nevertheless, I’ve always enjoyed watching sports. And in my study of Scripture, I’ve discovered that Paul was a sports junkie like me. Reading through his epistles, it quickly becomes apparent that he enjoyed track and field events.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:24–25 (NIV)
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 1 Corinthians 9:26
A couple of weeks ago, one of his sports-related comments jumped out at me:
Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7–8
Paul was offering instruction to his protégé Timothy, but I think all of his can benefit from his words.
God’s Gym Can Work For You, Too!
Interestingly enough, the Greek word for “train” is gymnazo, where we get the English word “gymnasium.” The word can also be translated “exercise.” Last year I delved into this Scripture passage in-depth in my post Exercise Naked.
Mulling over the idea of exercise, I realized that getting in shape requires a plan. Despite my lack of athletic acumen, I still try to stay in shape. But if I lack a plan, it simply won’t happen.
Our walk with God works the same way.
This led me to ask to ask myself two questions:
- How often do I work harder at getting in physical shape than I do at getting in spiritual shape?
- What’s my plan for getting in spiritual shape?
Let’s be honest: growing in godliness doesn’t happen on its own. Our relationship with Christ doesn’t naturally deepen over time.
Plan The Work And Then Work The Plan
As we enter the New Year, I invite you to join me in prayerfully assembling a plan for growing in your walk with God. Obviously, your plan won’t resemble mine. Rather than over planning and setting yourself up for failure, try to establish a plan that you can reasonably follow. Perhaps you may want to spend 15 minutes a day reading the Bible, or set aside 15 minutes a day to prayer and listening to God. For other ideas in growing in your walk with God, click here.
I’m curious to know what your spiritual plans are for 2012. Please share them with the rest of us by commenting at the end of this post.
As I conclude the final Neighborhood Café blog post of 2011, I offer you my sincerest thanks for joining us. On behalf of Eugene Scott, Michael Gallup, and Brendan Scott, thank you for taking the time to read our posts.
May you encounter the presence of the living Christ in new ways in 2012.
Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. By looking at his office desk, you can tell that 2011 was overly busy. He hopes to slow down in 2012.