Keys to the Kingdom
I don’t have an athletic bone in my body, however, I didn’t mind PE in school as long as it was exercises, crab soccer, relay races, or running to the Stockton Lake’s first boat dock and back. But when we played volleyball, softball, or basketball, I was completely lost. I don’t remember the coach ever explaining how to play any of these games. It seemed to me that all the other girls knew what to do, how to do it, and enjoyed it. I didn’t have a clue how to do any of these sports. When I played the outfield (and I happened to get the ball) I wouldn’t know where to throw it! I couldn’t seem to pay attention to these games because I simply wasn’t interested. It was comforting to know that I would eventually graduate and that would be the end of my athletic exasperations.
Not everyone is cut out to be a physical athlete, but all believers are to be spiritual athletes. In order to stand up under fire, spiritual muscles are a requirement. We must participate in lifelong training of our spirit. Paul is writing about spiritual growth and says, “Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong” (Hebrews 5:14 NLT). The only way to properly distinguish between good and evil is to read the user’s manual, which is God’s Word. “For the free gift of eternal salvation is now being offered to everyone; and along with this gift comes the realization that God wants us to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures and to live good, God-fearing lives day after day” (Titus 2:12 TLB).
Lazy people practice being lazy. Disciplined people practice discipline. You have to practice whatever you’re interested in to be any good at it. “Exercise yourself spiritually and practice being a better Christian, because that will help you not only now in this life, but in the next life too” (1 Timothy 4:8 TLB).
It seems to me that, if Christ followers really loved God, we would want to dedicate time in His Word. It’s comparable to spending time in the gym and working out to build muscles and strength. The Bible tells us how to be spiritual giants…if we’re interested. I recently read the book of Galatians. My vocabulary isn’t very sophisticated, but at the top of these pages I wrote: Wow, powerful, great news, live by love and faith, believe and reap blessings. “Jesus replied, ’But even more blessed are all who hear the Word of God and put it into practice’” (Luke 11:28 NLT).
Paul writes to the Christians in Colosse and tells them to continue to work on their spiritual muscles: “I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness“ (Colossians 2:5-7 NLT). When believers are disciplined and deeply committed to Christ Jesus as Lord, the devil is dialing 911.
God the Father has given His children triumphant grace to live a life of practicing His Word. He has given us powerful promises so we can be strong in faith, goodness, understanding, self-control, patient endurance, godliness, mercy, and love.
The Key: Flex your spiritual muscles and practice your strong faith outside the gym.