Editors Note: Scott will be sharing some great spiritual exercises with us each month. Most of these will be tried and true forms of spiritual growth that have largely fallen into neglect in recent times. For some insight on how such spiritual growth can shape, inspire, and mold you, check out his "Blog From Prague" if you have not already done so!
When it comes to New Year's Resolutions the focus is often on exercise: running, lifting, walking, anything that might make us more fit. Though our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) — precious gifts for which need to be care — why is there a tendency to overlook and under-emphasize "exercising the spirit"?
Paul said it like this to Timothy:
While physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8 NRS; also 1 Corinthians 9:24-26; 2 Timothy 2:5; 2 Timothy 4:7; Acts 20:24; Hebrews 12:1)
The sad reality is that many of us are "flabby disciples." That's not to say we must buffet our spirits in order to win the prize of heaven, for we are completely saved by grace! (Ephesians 2:8-10) The problem seems to be, as Dallas Williard has so poignantly pointed out, that Christians in America are not only saved by grace, but frozen by it!
So, where does one begin in exercising the spirit?
As with physical training, we begin with an honest assessment of how fit we are. We then decide on a training regimen, ideally with the advice and input of those who know us best. And then we get started, making the conscious commitment to a reasonable (not too little or too much) plan of action.
During the coming year, we will offer a spiritual exercise each month. Some will be familiar and will feel quit natural. Others may be new and seem awkward at first. Try them on for size, ask another to join you, and remember the promise that the Spirit will be at work, transforming you into the image of Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:16-17)
This month, why don't you start with a familiar spiritual discipline or spiritual exercise that has previously helped you grow closer to the Lord and more open to the Holy Spirit. Then, we'll challenge each other to take on some other spiritual exercises each month as we seek to deepen our relationship and refine our walk with the Lord.