Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How Are You Doing?

     By now, many of the New Year's Resolutions made with all sincerity are slipping away as we enter the halfway point of January.  Amazing isn't it?  We promise ourselves that we will turn over a new leaf, lose some weight, exercise regularly and eat better.  These are worthy causes for certain, but we do not always stay the course.
     One area that my husband and I have succeeded in maintaining over the past few years is to start a regimen of walking at least four to five times a week for the sake of our health.  We have been faithful in this area and it has become a regular habit.  One of the benefits of these walks is time to pray and enjoy the beauty of God's creation, but there is an even more important exercise in the long run than this.
     In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote this concerning exercise:  "Bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things" (1 Timothy 4:8).  Paul, here, acknowledges that bodily exercise does profit a little.  I think all of our doctors would agree.  However, our bodies will eventually weaken and fade in strength.  Therefore, Paul encourages us to concentrate on exercising godliness because it holds a promise for this life and the life to come.  This is one thing we CAN take with us when we die!
     While the term godliness may sound dull, fearful or even unattainable, this is the goal we are called to live and develop.  In simple terms, godliness is simply self-giving love - the kind that cares more for others than we care for ourselves.  How do we learn to exercise godliness?  The answer is simple.  We must spend time in the presence of our Lord and sit at the feet of Jesus listening to Him through His Word.  As we allow His Word to sink deep within us, it will change us from the inside out and we will become more like Him.  This takes time, effort and regular commitment.  Yet, when we are faithful to this exercise, the blessings will be abundant in our lives.
     Secondly, we need to daily talk with the Lord.  Prayer is not meant to be a one time duty in the morning or evening.  Instead, it is a flowing conversation with our Lord throughout the day.  Praying on our way to work, as we hear about someone in need, while we prepare an evening meal or even driving along the highway allows us the privilege to come into the presence of our Creator.  I find this type of prayer life revitalizing.  If I hear a prayer request from a friend that I do not immediately pray for, I have a tendency to forget to lift this before the Lord.  Therefore, I talk with the Lord throughout my busy day.  This is an exercise that pays real dividends because it glorifies God, lifts the needs of our friends and loved ones and once again, changes our hearts.
     Finally, we exercise godliness when we demonstrate God's love to others both in fellowship with other believers and by sharing the good news with unbelievers that we come in contact with at work or in our neighborhood.  No Christian can be an island unto himself.  We are meant to mingle, connect, reach out, and touch the lives of those around us.  We dare not neglect our regular fellowship with other believers because this is where we draw spiritual nourishment and encouragement from.  Likewise, as we touch the lives of those around us in our daily routine, we have the privilege of passing on the truth about Jesus Christ.
     Exercising godliness improves our spiritual life in the same way that physical exercise helps our general health.  Both require commitment and discipline in order to see results.  Looking into God's Word daily, communing with Him throughout the day in prayer and surrounding ourselves with both other believers in worship and our neighbors we encounter in our daily work all provide us with a means of building our godly character.  We have been put on this earth to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  So the choice is clear...we can be  couch potato Christians with flabby spiritual muscles or we can be fit and ready to serve as He did by exercising godliness every day.
     Our other resolutions may have fallen by the wayside, but I pray that this is one commitment we will put ahead of all others because it counts for all eternity!  Selah!

Pictures above come from the public domain at Wikipedia Commons

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