May 18, 2019

Spiritual Training

Written by Tripp Prince

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – May 18, 2019

Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air. 1 Corinthians 9:25-26 (NRSV)

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with exercise, especially running. While I know its health benefits are substantial, as someone who played team sports for years, I struggled with the monotony and repetition of solo running. As a result, my running was sporadic and slow, yielding little to no noticeable benefit in my life. Yet a year ago my younger brother got inspired and went from couch to marathon running over the course of 12 months. As the older brother, I wasn’t to be outdone, and all of a sudden my motivation and interest in running went through the roof! Within a few months, my frequency and duration as a runner more than tripled, with the only difference from previous years being I now had a clear aim and driving motivation: don’t let your kid brother beat you!

Paul compares the spiritual life to a runner in training for a competitive race or a boxer getting ready for the big fight. A clear vision of becoming like Christ motivates us to proper spiritual training. A burning desire to run a marathon race dramatically affects the way in which you train today. Without a vision and goal our daily practices and habits will be misdirected and ineffective. Similarly, a vision without any realistic assessment of the means to get there is equally ineffective. As much as I may want to run a marathon, it is impossible without consistent and effective training!

A flourishing Christian life takes into account both the ultimate vision and the practical steps needed to achieve it. To be a Christian is to be on a journey with a glorious destination ahead, nothing less than perfect communion with God, who is an eternal community of love. Yet by the Holy Spirit at work in your life, the Lord wants to make you ready here and now for that eternal communion!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith”( Hebrews 12:1-2b).

You and I are invited to be renewed daily in his love, conforming our lives to the life and love of Jesus. Every act of devotion, every surrender of the will, every selfless gift can be directed to this end. Rather than seeing your life story as a disconnected, meaningless string of isolated choices and situations, choose instead to see the beauty of living in full alignment and harmony with the story God is telling over creation. This is the story we are invited into and the source of our motivation to live faithfully in the present, filled with hope for the future.

Prayer

Father, keep our eyes clear and fixed on your perfect love, that we might follow you faithfully in every decision we face and choice we make. Amen.


Application

Where has your spiritual training been aimless and unintentional?


Related Reading

Deuteronomy 31:6; Colossians 3:23-24; 2 Timothy 4:7


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