Let’s Talk About Fitness
Fitness is a multi-billion dollar industry because most people love the idea of being fit. The problem is most people wind up pursuing their fitness goals rather than realizing them because they fail to reinforce their resolve with something that goes beyond themselves.
If that doesn’t immediately resonate in your mind as logical, think about this:
Reinforce Your Resolve With Something Greater Than Yourself
In High School, I remember guys on the Wrestling Team would fast for an entire day leading up to their meet so they could qualify for what amounted to be the most strategically advantageous weight division. They weren’t concerned so much about their vanity as much as they were wanting to promote the success of their team. You see it in virtually every team oriented sport where athletes will subject themselves to an exhausting training regimen in order to be the fastest and the strongest they can possibly be. Again, it’s not because they’re looking to “lose weight,” as much as they’re determined to make a positive contribution to the overall team effort.
You also see it in the military. Recruits will subject themselves to 90 days worth of discomfort and humiliation in order to rate the privilege of wearing that uniform. And then once they’ve earned that privilege, they continue to build themselves physically so can be truly combat ready. Again, it’s not so much about the way their uniform fits as much as it’s what that uniform represents that fuels their resolve.
I can testify. I was in the Marines and what’s significant is that even though I was discharged several years ago, I still feel obligated to maintain a certain physical standard given the fact that I served in the Corps.
I’ll give you an example: Recently I was running a race where there were several obstacles involved along with multiple hills that compelled a number of participants to cease running and slow down to a run accompanied by some labored breathing. Some of the obstacles involved a combination of upper and lower body strength which, combined with the challenge of the hills that had to be negotiated, resulted in several individuals to forgo the obstacle altogether and simply go around it and continue walking.
I was determined to run the whole thing and do it right. At one point I wound up running alongside a high school student who’s pace happened to match mine. We struck up one of those conversations where you’re talking in between occasional gasps for air as you’re grunting your way through an intense workout. He picked up on the fact that I served in the military and he asked, “What branch?”
In that moment, you want to be able to say, “USMC” and not feel like you have to make excuses as to why you’re not looking the part at that point.
But here’s the thing: When I was on active duty, fitness was compulsory. I was in uniform everyday, and while I may still feel somewhat obligated to maintain a good uniform appearance, the fact is my Dress Blues are in my closet, I’m not having to stand inspection everyday nor am I expected to take a Physical Fitness Test every six months.
That’s the problem with activities that motivate you from the outside in. They tend to be seasonal and their influence endures for only as long as you’re actively participating. While you can’t deny their effectiveness in reinforcing your determination, the fact that they’re temporary can be problematic if you’re looking for something to impact your resolve on an on-going basis.
From the Inside Out
What would be ideal is if you had access to something that not just motivated you, but genuinely inspired you and did so from the inside out. Moreover, to have access to it indefinitely as opposed to something that was available temporarily – now that would be phenomenal!
Fact is, you have that Resource. You’ve got that dynamic in you and although we’re talking about fitness, you can unleash this beautiful machine in the context of any discipline or challenge that you might face.
It’s called Discipleship.
Reek of Excellence
You might be thinking, “How did we go from pushups to Bible Study?”
Look at Colossians 3:17:
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:17)
First of all, consider the phrase, “…whatever you do.” That’s going to include what you’re doing in the gym and at the dinner table.
Secondly, ponder what it means to do it, “…in the name of the Lord Jesus.” That means you’re doing what He wants, the way He wants it done. And how does He want to see it done?
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Col 3:23-24 [ESV])
...with all your might…
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. (Ecc 9:10 [live each day as your last])
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt 5:16)
We are to reek of excellence in everything we do, think and say.
Now I know what you want to say. While this might be somewhat inspirational, in many ways it’s nothing more than yet another directive to “straighten up and fly right.” But when you pop the hood on all that Scripture is advocating in this context, you’ve got something here that will fire you up when you deploy it the way that it was intended.
There are two primary reasons why God would have you knock it out of the park every time you get up to bat:
|Promote the Reality and the Power of God (Matt 5:16)||So you can win (1 Cor 9:24; Eph 6:12-13)|
People are drawn to quality. If you’re good at what you do, not only do they admire your talent, they’re also interested in what makes you tick. That’s why Scripture is so frequently punctuated with admonishments to be on top of your game, whatever your game might be. That’s the sugar that makes your witness sweet!
The other piece of why you want to focus on being excellent is because when you do so you place yourself in a position of strength.
The Two Versions of You
There are two versions of you:
❯❯ the version of you that tries
❯❯ the version of you that wins
The version of you that wins is that version that triumphs over every impulse you have to make mistakes, make compromises, quit and ultimately fail.
Fact is, your greatest adversary is not that person you’re competing with for a job promotion or some other kind of accolade. Your biggest opponent is the one that’s staring back at you in the mirror every morning. That’s the beast you need to tame! The Bible calls it your “earthly nature” in Colossians 3:5. In addition, anytime you’re getting ready to do something that has the potential to serve as a good commercial for the Strength and the Substance of your King, the devil is rolling up his sleeves and saying, “Oh, no you don’t!”
Ephesians 6:12 says:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph 6:12)
The “position of strength” that was referenced earlier is a mental posture where you’re intentionally acknowledging the Signature of Divine Purpose that’s stamped on every waking moment of your life. (Ps 139:16). There’s nothing random or insignificant about your circumstance regardless of where you’re at or what you’re doing. And you’ve got a choice to either fly solo, contend with your own shortcomings coupled with the schemes of Satan and settle for what God allows, or to grab a hold of the True Muscle of Christ and perform in a manner that God prefers.
You can either try or you can win.
You are at your strongest when you’re processing things and operating in concert with God’s Reality and Power (1 Jn 4:4). And you’re far more likely in that moment to be asking for and receiving the Resources God would give you to ensure that you’re performing at a level that’s better than your best (Matt 7:7-8; Phil 2:13; Jas 1:5).
That’s how you win! That’s your key to success! That is you reinforcing your resolve with Something greater than yourself and that is you reeking of excellence!
All Day Every Day
While some of this may sound familiar, the tendency is to reserve these kind of spiritual strategies for crisis situations, moral dilemmas or when the topic is overtly ministerial.
Look at 2 Corinthians 9:8:
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Cor 9:8).
This is for your approach to fitness, this applies when you go to work, this can be deployed even when you’re mowing your lawn. There’s nothing that’s untouched or unaffected by the Power and the Grace of God. It is simply a matter of making use of those Resources and enjoying the benefits of a successful outcome, a healthy disposition and a powerful witness.
Folks, this is why we read our Bible! This is why we pray! So that we can win over those things that stand between us and the excellence that we’re capable of in Christ.
– all day, every day!
Physical Fitness is no less grueling nor less inconvenient even when we’re doing it as a form of discipleship. But when we reinforce our resolve with a determination to honor our King and make use of all that He offers to help us get it done – it’s a completely different dynamic. And again, this isn’t just about fitness. This is every discipline, every goal, every challenge. So, reinforce your resolve and empower your efforts with the Rocket Sauce of the Holy Ghost and buckle up!
Let’s get it done!