Like anything in life, once you’ve established a habit or discipline of something, that habit, whether it be good or bad, is not easily broken. By human nature, most of us don’t like the terms “exercise” or “discipline” but none of us can deny that without these healthy habits being lived out in our lives, nothing gets accomplished. Some gladly welcome a challenge and some do not. However, without exercising self-discipline and accepting a challenge, potential is often unrealized.
One thing I like about participating in an exercise class, is I tend to usually work harder and challenge myself a little more than I would working out on my own at home. Perhaps you are one of those self-motivated runner types, who doesn’t need anyone else to encourage or motivate you. To me, there is something very motivating about being in a class with others and I think this is true of most group environments.
We are not only better together, but we definitely get better together if we are in the right company.
Many of us do welcome being challenged in the area of our physical fitness. We schedule one-on-one personal training sessions, spend a small fortune on the latest athletic attire, and rigidly make sure our week includes at least 3 or 4 workouts or more. And now, the latest gadget is the Fitbit, the fitness wristband that helps us track how much we are really challenging ourselves. Now, some of you are thinking, no, I have no desire to be challenged in the fitness arena, and I rarely or never exercise as a result. Others of us only exercise because we know it’s good for our health, even though we may not have a strong desire to do so, nor can we honestly say we find it enjoyable. Rather, the term “endurance” takes on its literal meaning as we just endure the process. Many want to exercise, but other priorities frequently get in the way. Another whole segment of society is motivated to exercise solely from a vanity standpoint, and some get way out of balance as a result.
Some of the other areas of our lives where we at least accept a challenge include: education, career goals, and, for many women and a few gentlemen too, is in the area of our beauty regimens. We spend numerous hours and resources in classes, courses, in meetings and within organizations, online, and even in spas, for the purpose of being challenged to know more, to grow, to climb to the top of the corporate ladder, and in order to obtain a desired goal, even if the goal is simply to relieve stress or improve our physical appearance.
To prove my point as it relates to our exterior beauty, there are numerous makeup gurus on youtube who are famous across the globe and quite successful just because of the desire of so many to have the best look cosmetically speaking. Reuters.com indicates that the global spa and wellness industry was worth an estimated $3.4 trillion even in 2013. Our culture definitely welcomes some sharpening in the beautification of our bodies, and we are more than willing not only to give up our time, as well as being willing to debit and credit away to achieve such beautiful results.
There is one other extra-curricular phenomenon and craze that has swept over our culture in the past few decades that screams challenge as well as exhilaration; and, a great multitude of mostly men (and a few gals presumably) are practically addicted to this challenge. Large masses of them could not imagine life without their regular, and often, a little too overly consistent xbox appointments. Their drive to remain focused, committed and challenged in a competitive wonderland of sports fantasy demands a steady routine of football and basketball gaming sessions to achieve their superstar status statistically speaking. Or, for those who are into all the war games, even the most timid and those who often lack any backbone in real life, are vehemently and powerfully and sadly, rather violently, conquering and destroying all others who stand in their way, with the flick of their furious fingers. Okay, so that’s another topic altogether. Back to the exercise subject…
Personally in the exercise area, I have definitely become more motivated in maintaining a disciplined fitness regimen over the last few decades. I’ll have to be honest that in my 20s and 30s, the desire to keep a set workout schedule was perhaps more often initiated out of the desire to keep up a good appearance (a little vanity there too), and minimally prompted from the healthy aspect. Having been a dancer all my life, I have always loved being in classes involving moving to music, so the 80s aerobics craze and even jazzercise were good fits for me, especially during the season of my life that I laid dance on the “altar”. In the last few decades, more of my motivation has shifted to the desire to keep physically fit for The Master’s use, specifically in fulfilling the calling I have had involving a ministry through dance. It also is beneficial to still be able to do some push ups and hold a plank (while in your fabulous 50s), in order to keep pace with the youth and teens I teach in dance class.
Of course, everyone will tell you how much better they feel after exercising – more energy and less stress – yes, even amidst a few sore muscles! Like anything in life, once you’ve established a habit or discipline of something, that habit, whether it be good or bad, is not easily broken. By human nature, most of us don’t like the terms “exercise” or “discipline” but none of us can deny that without these healthy habits being lived out in our lives, nothing gets accomplished.
Now, of course, most of the things in life we are willing to remain committed to and spend our time, resources, and energy on, all have their respective places in our lives (some necessary and some just for sheer joy and pleasure).
I’m certainly not advocating an out of balance lifestyle that lacks focus and commitment to our education or career goals, and, nor am I against looking our best physically or even some entertaining gametime fun, much less beauty makeovers and blissful spa moments. I make regular contributions to the success of the beauty industry too! What I am wondering, though, is how many of us need a little exercise spiritually? Do you ever give thought to that?
Our bodies are made up of three parts: body, soul and spirit. In this way we are patterned after our Creator – three in one (the Trinity) – God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. After all, we were created in the image of God. We should be taking proper care of and exercising our bodies, our souls (made up of our mind, will and our emotions), and our spirits. When we don’t exercise spiritually, we truly become like the walking dead. Furthermore, without some spiritual challenges, we aren’t likely to become spiritually strong or mature either.
Our culture seems more obsessed with Fitbit measurements, and beautifying our hair, skin, and nails above inner beauty, spiritual maturity, and overall well being.
Many of us have even relinquished consent to having our overall body fat level measured by an electronic device – yeah, why, right? This is definitely where remaining ignorant of this little number (or not so little) would be truly bliss. Our body fat content is actually deceptive upon glancing at one’s size alone. It’s not about the size or weight of an individual necessarily, but rather it’s the measurement of our muscle content in ratio to our body fat. Wonder how healthy we would register if we could measure the level of our spiritual muscles by such a device?
Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)
Some good questions we should all consider:
- Do I need an exercise challenge?
- Do I need a spiritual challenge?
- Do I regularly exercise my spiritual muscles through prayer, meditation, and focused study in God’s Word?
- Am I consistently around others who not only challenge but sharpen me? As a person? As a friend? As a co-worker?
- What changes do I need to make in my lifestyle in order to be more spiritually fit?
- Am I being used to sharpen others around me?
- Do I treat my body as the temple of the Holy Spirit?
- Am I fit for the Master’s use physically, spiritually, and emotionally? Is this my motivation for taking care of my body, mind, and spirit?
If you find yourself a little lagging in this area, why not consider joining not only an exercise class, but a Bible study class, or a church small group that will both sharpen and challenge you spiritually? You will not only feel better, you will be better! That’s a promise that is heavily weighted and one you can run your race of eternal endurance with.
…and let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1
We all need a little exercise both physically and spiritually.
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)