The Christian Workout
Working out, grinding out another set with more reps, I find myself yearning for the timer to sound the bell of freedom that ends my set and workout. As I’m churning out the reps, all I can think about is when will the blasted timer tick down to 0:00 and sound the alarm that sets me free from the pain and agony. “When will it end?” is the cry of my workout. Interestingly enough, however, when the bell sounds, a different set of questions immediately come to mind: “Did I give it my all?” Do I have something left in the tank?” “Could I have done more?”
We workout because we understand delayed gratification, foregoing temporary pleasure for future rewards. We obviously would rather do almost anything than pound through a workout. However, we willingly forego the short-lived, momentary pleasure of doing nothing for the extended and longer-lasting benefits of working out. And, since we made the choice to work out, we might as well give it our maximum effort so that we get the maximum results.
This same principle holds true in God’s economy. However, too many believers are living their lives for temporary pleasures rather than future rewards. Too many people eke out an existence each day focused more on personal happiness and self-gratification than eternal joy and the glory of God. God has something better for us. God has us on this earth to live for His glory and purposes, sacrificing in the here and now for rewards in the there and then. He has called you to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” (1 Tim. 4:7) The word “discipline” is a translation from the Greek word that is the source of our English word “gymnasium.” The idea that Paul is communicating is to live the disciplined life so that you can be who God has created and called you to be. It takes hard work and effort to live the godly life. However, the amazing part is that it is “God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.” (Phil. 2:13) In a physical workout, it is my natural energy, stamina, and ability that drives my effort. In our spiritual lives, it is God’s supernatural energy, stamina, and ability that drives our effort. We have the Spirit of God working in us to work out through us. We can’t lose. All we need to do is show up, surrender, and watch what God does.
God has us in the midst of a workout, exercising our faith, obedience, and commitment. It certainly makes life more difficult, and we have to give up on some of the earthly pleasures, but we recognize the reward and joy that awaits us. Don’t miss the eternal joy for earthly pleasures. Don’t become so focused on yourself that you neglect God’s work in you. Don’t neglect the workout. Don’t cheat the process. And, don’t forget that He is the One working in you. Surrender your life so that He can work in yours.
I think the worst feeling is when the timer finally sounds, and you realize that you could have gone harder, done more, given more because there is still something left in the tank. May we join with Paul and say at the end of our lives: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:7-8)
The timer will eventually and soon enough tick down to 0:00 for everyone, including you. Bear down, press in, and re-up your commitment to the Lord. Make sure that when that moment comes, you have surrendered every intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and physical muscle fiber to the Lord for His good and useful purposes. Leave no doubts as to your commitment to the Lord. Surrender this day and every day for His purposes, and let Him do His work in you.