“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”
I have always been enamored of physical size and strength. For this reason, I am quite sure, God sent a bodybuilding champion as His faithful witness into my life. When I first met this man back in the late 80’s I couldn’t help but be impressed. I once spotted this Schwarzenegger look-alike while he bench pressed a pair of 140-pound dumbbells! God used him and his impressive athleticism to capture my attention and gain my respect, all for the purpose of my hearing and believing the Gospel. I am forever grateful to God for His grace and for His special servant who introduced me to the Savior. As impressive as my friend’s physical size and strength were, he would be the first to encourage a proper perspective on the matter. I remember him asking me to imagine viewing those impressive 140-pound dumbbells from the window of an airplane. From that vantage point, they wouldn’t be so impressive, that is, if you could even see them at all! I remember him asking me, “How do you think God looks at these? Do you think He’s impressed?” That powerful lesson on priorities and perspectives has stuck with me for over 30 years. There is nothing wrong with training our bodies to be healthy and strong of course, so long as we are not motivated by sinful desires like pride. No matter how strong we may be physically, however, that kind of strength pales in comparison to the inner strength required to live a consistently godly life in this world. It takes real strength to keep our passions and emotions under control, and to consistently and continually resist the desires of the flesh. Paul understood that, as with physical strength, this kind of strength is acquired through training and exercise, albeit of a different kind. “I therefore so run,” wrote the great apostle, “not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1Corinthians 9:26-27). Paul wasn’t concerned that he might lose his salvation mind you. Rather, he was concerned that a lack of self control could lead to his being disqualified from meaningful service to the Lord. That ought to concern every one of us. “Ye are the salt of the earth:” said the Lord to His disciples, “but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matthew 5:13). God has so designed us that proficiency comes with practice. May we train ourselves to be godly (1 Timothy 4:8), being “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Colossians 3:16). Walk strong today, dear saints, for the glory of the One who loved us first, and for the good of others, especially those that are of the household of faith.
God bless you,