8 Min Read

Exercise It

Published on

November 13, 2023

I know a story of a Pastor who came across a young man after one of his teaching engagements in a Church. The young man came to meet him to express how blessed he was by the teaching and also to ask how he was able to teach that way (probably so he could repeat it in his life). Initially, the Pastor was going to just allude to the Grace of God and end the conversation there.

In this scenario, this might have put a false sense of humility on the Pastor and then put this young man on a journey of frustration😪😥 — I mean, has he not also received the same grace from God? Why can’t he teach like that!? 󰣿󰣿

Thank God this Pastor was led to tell him the routine (the rigour, the labour, the commitment, the story, the exercise) attached to the Grace he had received. If he (Pastor) had only told the Grace story, he might have given the young man an impression about him (Pastor) being special. When he revealed the routine coefficient, he showed that if you apply yourself, you are in pole position to get the results.

Spiritual growth doesn’t happen by chance — it doesn’t fall on us because we are growing older. It doesn’t even come by us wishing for it. There is an expected Exercise to it.

Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. — 1 Timothy 4:7–8

Apostle Paul is letting us know here that physical exercise is good. It has its profit: hitting the gym, taking walks, jogging, dieting, and exercising have their value. The discipline and dedication here are significant. Physical training gives us the latitude to maximise the body God gave us. That we want to emphasise one truth doesn’t mean we have to rubbish another truth. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Having said the above, the focus here is godliness—the training of ourselves in godliness.

Training in godliness has benefits not only in this world but in the world that is to come. This makes training in godliness even more important. I like what Pastor Khein had to say about Godliness: Godliness refers to a God-honouring life. Life of righteousness and upright living. Godliness implies a close relationship with Jesus Christ. To be godly is to know Christ. Godliness comes through growing in one’s relationship with Jesus Christ.

Physical training and godliness share a similarity—with each, growth only comes with exertion and proper feeding. Godliness can be broken down this way;

  1. Learning about God (reading the Word);
  2. Learning to live according to His Will (note the principles from His Word)
  3. Learning to be like Him (applying the principles in our daily walk.)

There is nothing more glorious than the gospel and the Saviour who brings it. And if we want more of Jesus, then we should train ourselves for godliness. If we forget the purpose and make these trainings an end rather than a means to an end, they will become hard, tiresome, and drudgery. But if we keep in sight the glory of our Redeemer, we will find joy in the journey. Friend, Jesus is worth it. The grace-fueled labour it takes to know Jesus is worth it.

We are not saved by works (Ephesians 2:8–9), but after we have been saved, there is work to be done (1 Corinthians 15:10). We cannot expect to grow and become like Christ without labour. God is knowable; he has provided us with the means to know him. We must exercise the spiritual disciplines if we are going to grow in godliness. Let’s see what Apostle Peter had to say about the matter:

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. — 2 Peter 1:5–8 (NLT)

He assumes faith as the foundation on which the other virtues rest and from which they grow. We receive faith in Christ as God’s gift (2 Peter 1:1), but then we supply the other qualities, which are the fruit of faith (1:8). So, to grow in godliness, we must make sure our trust is in Jesus Christ and His gracious promises. Faith is the essential foundation for growing in godliness. We see that it still takes every effort (2 Peter 1:5), not chance/luck to add all these other layers. Growth doesn’t happen on Autopilot mode, I won’t grow spiritually if I don’t deliberately work at it.

● Moral excellence (virtue): the pursuit of the moral will of God in every area of life.

● Knowledge: knowing the Word of God to inform our conscience and guide us in all our thinking and behaviour.

● Self-control: the ability to control oneself. It involves moderation, constraint, and the ability to say “no” to our baser desires and fleshly lusts.

● Patient endurance: the characteristic of a man who is unswerving from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety in even the greatest trials and sufferings.

● Godliness: a very practical awareness of God in every aspect of life.

● Brotherly affection: refers to the love that we are to show to others in the family of God.

Love for everyone: self-sacrificing commitment to seek the highest good of the one loved. A journey of faith that ends in Love (2 Peter 1:5–8, Galatians 5:6)

You would have found out by now that even as we make efforts to work out these things, it is the Spirit that can work in us to execute all of them (Philippians 2:12b–13).

There is a way we speak,

There is a way we live,

There is a way we love,

There is a kind of faith we have,

There is a level of purity expected of us.

These things don’t just fall on us, because if they did, we wouldn’t need to do any “work” — alas friends, they are exercised out. There is grace given and there is Labour exerted on it to produce outputs. Yes, they are in us because the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us, and we need to “EXERCISE” them for the Spirit to bear fruits (Galatians 5:22).

Spiritual growth is a long process, not a quick fix. It only shows results when we practise it consistently and stick with it over the long haul. We have to give ourselves entirely to them so that our progress may be evident to all. EXERCISE IT.

Do have a blessed week and peace within your walls!

I remain a fellow Comrade serving with you to actualize the LORD’s Agenda.

Pastor Ayomide Arowele

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