The Short Trip From Fit to Fat
Listen to Audio (right click to save)
Our local high school football players survived grueling triple practice sessions one summer. Our sons were on the team, and I know. But you know what? It was then off season, and I noticed then that several of them were going for a relatively simple one-mile run. I mean, simple compared to those triple sessions. Well, when they got back, they were totally wiped out, they were gasping for breath, they were sore, they were exhausted. My son was among them, and he summed up what he learned that day. He kind of collapsed in the car when I picked him up after the little run, and he said, "You know, dad, it doesn't take long to get out of condition." Well, he's right—especially when it comes to your heart.
Now our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Timothy 4, and I'm going to begin reading at verse 7. Paul says, "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."
Now, this word train...where Paul says, "train yourself to be Godly." It's an interesting word. If you looked at it in the original Greek language that the New Testament was written in, it's the word gymnazo. Does that sound like any word we have today? Well, of course, gymnasium. We go to the gymnasium. That's where we get the word gymnasium from this gymnazo word. It's talking about workouts, exercise, and staying fit.
And I think it's appropriate that God should suggest that staying in shape spiritually is something like staying in shape physically. He's saying, "Train to be Godly. Go to the gym to be Godly. Work out; exercise to be Godly."
See, as our football players discovered, it doesn't take long to get out of condition. You just can't miss many days, or you lose most of the conditioning you've gained. I know what happens when I'm off the treadmill for a few days. I get back on it and I'm like, "Oh, boy! I've got to work my way back up again." When am I going to learn that you can't be spiritually strong if you only have an occasional workout? It wouldn't work physically; it doesn't work spiritually. Oh, we go to the retreat, we go to the big conference, we get the Sunday sermon from the pastor who preaches so well, we get occasional binges of Bible study where we do it and then we quit, we do it and we quit.
You can't stay in condition unless you exercise consistently. Our binges usually just bring us back to the condition we were in before. We just get back to zero. We never really grow; we never really expand spiritually the distance we can run, or the weight we can lift, or the challenges we can handle. We get stuck at one level, and we fall back through neglect, then we make it up on a spiritual binge, and then we repeat the process over and over again.
Why don't we try Paul's better idea? He says, "Train yourself to be Godly." Get in a regular, consistent program. And commitment is the key, whether it's physical or spiritual. You have to set a time to get into God's Word. When do you do that? When is your non-negotiable time to be with Jesus? You have to set the alarm, you have to set a place where you're going to do it, and then all day long you live with discipline, staying within the boundaries, creating good habits that keep you on track.
You know there is no such thing as a spiritual day off. King David took one and he paid for it the rest of his life. See, you step into spiritual adulthood the day you commit yourself to the daily discipline of life in Christ.
You know, in sports and in spiritual growth it doesn't take long to get out of condition.