Anytime we think of training we immediately think of physical fitness or working out. Christian training is very similar to that concept except the benefits “out-benefit” the physical fitness by a lifetime…literally. God calls us to be spiritually trained for the purpose of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). In verse 8 it compares physical training to being spiritually trained. Physical training is of some value but spiritual training is of value in everything and in every way since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8). When we work out daily we see the progress in our energy, our body changes for the better, we tend to improve our diet because we don’t want our training to go to waste, and the list goes on. The same goes for our spiritual training. When we train our spirit, everything about us changes from the inside out and for the better and some!
It’s easy to say that we should be spiritually trained but how do we spiritually train ourselves? Does this mean we need to read a devotion every day? Does it mean we should pray at least 3 times a day? It may mean these things but I think to get there you must start with the intent behind these things. A lot of christians do things so they look like christians when in reality God looks at your heart for everything you do. It starts with pursuing God, over everything else, so we can receive the proper plan and instruction.
"The spiritual disciplines are right doing that leads to right being."
- Jonathan Edwards
Pursue God Over Everything Else
God sent Jesus to die for us so that we can be reunited with Him (2 Corinthians 5:18). If we pursue or put anything else before God we are messing with God’s plan and the outcome hurts us and leads to spiritual death if it continues. To stick with our physical training illustration It is important to have a good and proven plan to follow for the sake of progress and your benefit. So naturally we find a personal trainer (or Google), to find a plan that has been proven to work and then we follow with the expectation of seeing results. Our personal trainer is our Heavenly Father who seeks a personal relationship with Him but He also seeks to provide us with proper instruction for our benefit but His glory. We should be seeking our spiritual personal trainer daily to receive our daily plan that is proven to work.
I love those who love me & those who seek me, find me (Proverbs 8:17). God has made himself available to those who love and seek him. Seek first the kingdom of God & His righteousness & and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33). When we seek Him first He provides for us all of our needs. If we are looking to become spiritually fit, of course He is going to provide the necessary “workouts” that are best for us for our benefit.
The primary way to seek & pursue God is to communicate with Him through prayer. Prayer communicates to God because it shows humility when done with a pure heart. It shows that we need Him and we are seeking His help and guidance for a particular situation. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us (1 John 5:14). This confidence I always relate to us as kids and our relationship with our parents. As babies we would run/crawl/look to our parents when we were hungry. We would show that we can’t feed ourselves and need them to help because we knew that they were the ones who had the know-how to supply the food. That dependence is what God wants of us and prayer shows Him that we are dependent on Him for something our heart desires. When we desire to become spiritual fit or godly and go to Him in prayer He becomes eager to help because it aligns with His word.
Study God’s Word
The next thing we must do while we are seeking God daily is to study God’s word. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). As believers we are fighting a battle that we didn’t use to have to fight against. The enemy is out to separate us from God and the way we fight the devil is with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
All scripture is breathed out by God & profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness(2 Timothy 3:16). God’s word is the plan that keeps us spiritually fit and the only way it works is if we do what the plan says. It says it is profitable for us, not when we read it, but when we do it. We can’t expect results if we talked to our personal trainer, got the plan from him but left it at home when we go to the gym. How do we expect to follow a workout plan without knowing what it is. Studying God’s word with the intent to apply and do it is different than reading for the sake of “because we are supposed to”. We should want to know God’s word for the sake of application, teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.
Living Out God’s Instruction
Seeking God and Studying God’s word are extremely beneficial but done in vain if the given instruction is not lived out. You can talk to your personal trainer, you can get the plan, you can bring the plan but if you never pick up a weight in faith that you can do the workout you can’t expect a benefit if the plan is not followed. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things and the God of peace will be with you(Phillipians 4:9). The word practice is the important word here. Practice connects the instruction to the blessing and promise. The word practice also doesn’t imply once. This means to continually follow the plan that God has given you when you seek him and study His word.
To this you have been called because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21). So not only did he give you the plan but he sent an example for you to follow. Follow is the action word and it is not a one time agreement. We must do what God says and continue doing what God says until He brings us home to be with Him in eternity. Blessed is the one who finds wisdom and the one who gets understanding (Proverbs 3:13). Knowledge is the knowing of a particular subject matter but it doesn’t become wisdom until you make the right decision based on true knowledge. That true knowledge we speak of is the word of God. So if we make a decision that aligns with God’s word, it is like following the plan with an action exactly how the creator of the plan intended it to be and it is considered a wise decision.
- Make a scheduled time every day to study God's word. Set a reminder in your phone, tell your family, and commit to it.
- As you are studying God's word, come up with themes each week that were revealed to you when study it and share it with someone but more importantly live it out with intent. Keep an eye out for God revealing Himself through your spiritual training and journal your experiences!
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for your promises and your Word. Lord we thank you for the ability to communicate with you through prayer. Lord in all of our ways show us what our plan is to become spiritually fit as you desire for us. Lord through your Holy Spirit reveal to us your Word and the best ways to apply your Word to our daily lives for our benefit and your glory. God we understand that physical fitness is difficult to do and spiritual training is even more difficult to do but remind us that we have the strength given to us through your son to become spiritually fit. Spiritual training benefits us in this life and the life to come. Thank you for being with us as we continue on in our spiritual walks to becoming spiritually fit. We pray all of these things in Jesus name, Amen.