Keep in Shape

I am the first to confess I don’t like exercise, nor have I ever participated in a sports club, other than a few years in the church softball league. That said, I’m grateful the apostle Paul wasn’t an athlete either, but still felt at ease using an illustration to connect with his Greek audience.

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. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:25-27 NIV

Athletes understand discipline. Writers do too.

To excel in writing, I have to keep writing. I must exercise my mind, practice the craft, and remain disciplined. Henri Nouwen wrote:

A spiritual life without discipline is impossible. Discipline is the other side of discipleship.

Henri J. M. Nouwen, Making All Things New

Yes, our spiritual lives need discipline too. Oh, how easy to become lazy in any aspect of life, but even more so with our faith. Why do we do that, I wonder? Is it because we know God has patience? Doesn’t the Bible talk about how Christ understands our weaknesses?

That’s no excuse. Without putting our faith into practice, exercising in prayer, witness, and study of the Word, we become Flat Stanley[1] Christians. You can barely pick us out in the crowd, as our faith becomes shallow and without flavor.

Remember too, a Flat Stanley can easily blow in the wind. Such a faith doesn’t help much with the standing firm so needed these days.

What areas of your spiritual life have become flabby in recent weeks and months? Bible reading? Prayer? Fellowship with believers? Active witness?

It’s time to get back in shape—not just make a plan—there’s a crown to win!

Grace and Peace

[1] Flat Stanley is an American children’s book series written by author Jeff Brown but has become popular in recent years as people make flat figures of themselves or Stanley to put in their travel pictures.

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