Bible Verse: 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. 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 9:24-27
Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 4:7-10; 2 Timothy 4:7
The apostle Paul regularly used athletic or physical metaphors for the spiritual life; this week, we have sought to do the same. There are many parallels between our physical and spiritual sides, and we are called to discipline in both areas.
We “train ourselves” (1 Timothy 4:7), we “run the race” with perseverance (Hebrews 12:1), we “strike a blow” to ourselves (1 Corinthians 9:27), not being aimless in our spiritual journey but intentional. We treat the spiritual journey as if we were marathon training, with the same level of dedication and steadfastness.
We can use infinite tools and methods to grow in our faith, but in the big picture, the only guaranteed technique that leads to lasting spiritual growth is faithfulness. I can’t lose the pounds unless I show up to do so every day, and I can’t grow in Christ unless I show up to do so every day.
When I was a pastor, I used to tell my church, “Your priorities aren’t whatever you ‘think’ or ‘wish’ they are—they are whatever your schedule is. Whatever you are giving your time to, that is your priority. Your daily schedule is the exact representation of what you actually think is most important.”
Men who grow are the men who show up. We carve out time and space for spiritual growth because we want Jesus to be a priority. We feast on the good food of the Word, we actively seek the filling of the Spirit, we get off our butts and get active in living out our beliefs, we rest and refresh regularly, and we find brothers who can walk and grow with us.
To kickstart your spiritual life, give it the same dedication and faithfulness you would give to training for a race. Watch and see what happens as God gets that level of commitment in your life.
Prayer: Lord, I want to grow! As I “train” myself spiritually, meet me in the training and bless me with Your presence.
Reflection: Nothing ever changes unless someone makes a change. A new week is starting tomorrow – what will you do differently next week to take a step towards good change?
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