I just came in from a four kilometer walk. I burned close to six hundred calories and took over ten thousand steps. My blood pressure dropped ten points. Besides all those healthy physical benefits, I got out into the fresh air, enjoyed a stroll through the bush with no one for company except squirrels, birds, and God.
Paul's right—physical exercise is a good thing. He says that it holds "promise for … the present life." Amazingly, he knew all this before diet books, aerobic tapes, and personal trainers. My morning walk is good—I might even live a few minutes longer because of it.
However, Paul's primary concern is the relationship that the "here-and-now" has to the hereafter. The important question in his mind, as it should be in ours, is how many "kilometers" we have walked each day with God. My spiritual workout in pursuing God and being godly, not only benefits me here, but it also has implications in the life to come. Because it has a wider application, that spiritual exercise ends up being more valuable than its physical cousin.
The time I spend exercising with God doesn't prolong the eternity that I will spend with Him. After all, eternity is, well, eternity. I think Paul is referring more to quality than he is to quantity. Just as physical exercise improves quality of life, so spiritual exercise—the pursuit of God and godliness—improves the quality of life here, and multiplies the joys which await me in the hereafter.
When I seek God and His righteousness, the calories of the world are gradually burned off. As I move closer to Him, the weight of stress which often characterizes life in this present world, melts away. The uphill battles are easier as I become more conscious of the invigorating breath of His presence filling my spiritual lungs.
From spiritual exercise I gain temporal and eternal benefits which only cost me a little bit of discipline.
I am not normally given to making resolutions when a new year dawns on the horizon. However, I will make an exception when it comes to committing myself to more spiritual exercise—after all, next year I'll be that much closer to eternity.
© Lynda Schultz 2007