– Akin Akinrinmade
Pump Iron and Get Ripped
In the verses above, the Apostle Paul makes a distinction between physical exercise and godliness. Godliness is simply a metaphor for spiritual formation. He uses the imagery of physical training that seeks to bring the body into a place of fitness, strength, agility and vitality to hone in the need for the practice of godliness. If you will do so much for something that has only temporal benefit, how much more should you pay attention to your spiritual life which has eternal consequence and impact? It takes hard work and commitment to get in maintain a good physical condition. In the same way, it also takes hard work and commitment to maintain a good spiritual condition. If you desire to get into good shape Spiritually, you must be ready to exercise yourself spiritually. Professional athletes will say: you need to GET FIT, PUMP SOME IRON AND GET RIPPED!
1 Timothy 4 (Berean Study Bible)
7 But reject irreverent and silly myths. Instead, train yourself for godliness.
8 For physical exercise is of limited value, but godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for the present life and for the one to come.
This makes it more vivid. As an athlete requires discipline and training to get into top conditioning, you need the proper nutrition, conditioning and environment for progress, to take advantage of growth spurts and to attain and maintain performance at peak.
1 Corinthians 9 (New Living Translation)
25 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
Anyone who has grappled with being overweight would agree with me that this can be quite a roller coaster experience. Few years ago, I went through a long phase where I was able to keep my weight within acceptable limits for my height and metabolism. I had the help of a team of nutritionist, exercise physiologists, professional fitness trainers, and physiotherapists who provided valuable guidance and support among others. Friends and family cheered me on and several joined me on this quest for optimum physical health and vitality. My goals were simple: loose unnecessary fat (not weight because muscle and bone weigh much more than fat), get fit (a function of cardio-pulmonary capacity), get toned (a function of muscle strength and resilience) and build mass (a function of muscle strength and growth). Three key things are emphasized: Proper nutrition, appropriate exercise and strength training and an ideal mental environment. Basically speaking, I had to get fit, pump iron and get ripped.
Spiritual formation is similar. While the process of growth and development is a grace provision of redemption, the praxis of it requires the right nutrition, the right environment and the right training. These things are the setting that helps to initiate, sustain and fire spiritual growth. Some people run ten miles every day but consume as much junk as they can get and wonder why they are not in top physical conditioning. Some eat right but don’t get any cardio exercise and wonder why they do not have the endurance, while some eat right, get cardio but do no strength or bulk training and wonder why they have no power.
To be a top conditioned athlete is analogous to reaching and staying in peak condition in order to sustain peak performance. To advance towards spiritual maturity and live life from that position of maturity and spiritual awareness, you need the conditioning and environment where this can thrive. Paul calls this discipline and training.
The Word used for Godliness in 1 Timothy 4 is the Greek word “eusebia” which can be translated as inner piety, spiritual maturity, radical devotion. This requires discipline and training.
Next time, we will begin to explore these spiritual disciplines and training that helps us along on our journey of spiritual formation, these are called Devotional Disciplines. These are analogous to pumping iron. They help us “GET RIPPED”.