“Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it.” 1 Cor. 9:24 (NRSV)
In the beginning of this series, I shared that I have been using an activity tracker to improve my overall physical fitness. The results I am achieving with the tracker are evidence that it was the perfect addition to my strategy for improving my personal health and wellness. Similarly, I am confident that believers who develop intentional strategies for spiritual fitness will be able to successfully navigate in the 21st century.
My Fitbit monitors several indicators of good health. They include number of steps made in a day, heart rate, number of steps climbed, sleep time, and finally, water and food consumed. If one looks at these indicators individually, they might question the benefit to be gained from their tracking. However, when viewed collectively, this monitoring provides useful information on vital human body systems that work cooperatively to keep us “physically” fit. These include our nervous system (sleep), our muscular system (steps climbed), our cardiovascular system (heart rate), our respiratory system (steps taken), and our digestive system (water and food).
Our inner man is a “spiritual system” designed by God (Gen. 2:7). It consists of not only the believer’s spirit or eternal nature but it also is comprised of the soul—the mind, the will, and the emotions; these work cooperatively, much like our human body system, to accomplish God’s purpose (2 Tim. 1:9).
Once we become believers, our spirit becomes one with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17). Agreement, however, between the spirit and the soul will not happen “on its own” (Rom. 7:18-20) but requires the development of intentional strategies that will combat forces—Satan, the world, and the flesh—that move believers away from God. Is your spiritual system working to accomplish God’s purpose in your life? Spiritual fitness works to insures that these spiritual systems, the spirit and the soul, are working cooperatively (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
Like physical fitness, spiritual fitness requires not only a change in “habits and routines” but it also requires a change in “mindset”. With the help of my Fitbit, I am encouraged when I see progress in areas that support good health, like an increase in the number of steps I make in a day. Similarly, the Holy Spirit directs, instructs, and corrects believers so they stay on the “path of righteousness” (Prov. 12:28) while glorifying God (John 16:13-14). What feedback is the Holy Spirit giving you on your habits, routines, and mindset? Like “eating clean” leads to a healthier physical body, spiritual fitness leads to a God-honoring, Christ-centered life (Matt. 5:16).
The believer’s responsibility in this “spiritual fitness” process is to strengthen their personal relationship with God. This includes spending time with Him studying the Bible, in prayer and meditation, and in individual worship, just to name a few. Time spent with the Lord will become periods of renewal and growth as God provides the believer “real time” feedback on their spiritual progress. How much effort and time are you devoting to your personal relationship with God? When spiritual fitness habits are faithfully practiced by the believer, their thoughts, behaviors and ultimately, their life style will reflect the image of Christ to the glory of God (Phil. 2:9-11).