Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Importance of Diet and Exercise

All of us face the struggle to live a healthy, balanced life. The temptations to eat too much or be less active are always there. We have to keep an eye on our diet. We can be as active as we want, but if we eat too much junk, our lives will not be healthy and balanced. On the other hand, we can have a great diet, but if spend our days lying around in front of the TV, we cannot be healthy and balanced either. A life that is healthy and balanced physically depends on both diet and exercise.

What happens if we import these ideas into our spiritual lives? Our diet would consist of encounters with God and His Word that strengthen and nourish us. The exercise we participate in would be the times when we put our faith into action – serving the Lord by serving others. Are both diet and exercise as important spiritually as they are physically?

Consider what would happen if we were all about diet, all about nourishment alone. We would know our Bibles. We would be able to argue ourselves out of every theological box. We would be able to quote chapter and verse as well as anyone. But does head knowledge alone lead to spiritual maturity? Or does it just make us a prideful, spiritual snob?

At the same time, consider what would happen if we were only about spiritual exercise, putting our faith in practice. We would be busy. No grass would grow under our feet. But where does the spiritual strength to achieve all the good works and sacrificial service come from without a diet of God and His Word? Spiritual exercise alone can only lead to exhaustion, frustration and burnout.

The key, as in so many things in life, is balance. Are we getting the proper nutrition? Do we sit under the teaching of the Word of God regularly? Are we engaged in personal Bible study and prayer? At the same time, we are active in our exercise? Do we serve God by serving others? Are we giving of ourselves, putting our faith in action and reflecting the love of Christ to people around us?

The balanced Christian life needs both diet and exercise. In Colossians 1, the apostle Paul tells the Colossian Christians what he prays for them. He wants them to live a life worthy of the Lord. And what are the key components of such a life? Diet and exercise!

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work (here is the exercise!), growing in the knowledge of God (here is the diet!).... (Col. 1:10, NIV, comments in parenthesis are mine)

That is my prayer for all of you – that we would be as diligent (or in some cases, more diligent) pursuing spiritual balance through both diet and exercise as we are chasing the same balance in our physical bodies.

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