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Exercising When We Don’t Feel Like It

1 Timothy 4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

There’s a battle raging between my mind and body. It’s bitterly cold in the southern hemisphere and yet the need to step outside and get moving is pressing. The body is willing, but the mind is not. So, with great strength and much talking to myself I slip on the joggers, grab a walking stick and take a hike in the ice-cold outdoors.

There will always be, this side of eternity, tasks that we know are urgent and needful, yet we don’t want to face. ‘I don’t feel like it’ has become the common catchphrase that gives us an out for addressing whatever needs to be done. How we feel seems to determine what is achieved. Exercising is a case in point. But there is no greater danger in the Christian life that making our emotions the determinant of our duties.

Paul instructs his listeners to train themselves to godliness. This is the very antithesis of waiting till we feel like doing something before we take action. Training means we need to discipline ourselves, in order to become proficient at a task through instruction, and practice. Training takes consistency and courage. It is not for the fainthearted. Yet it is a clarion call for every follower of Christ who is earnest in becoming like their Master.

Paul’s teaching is resplendent with athletic metaphors which encourage us to exercise ourselves towards godliness in order to receive the final prize of Christ likeness. (2 Timothy 2:5, 2 Timothy 4:7, Galatians 5:7, Philippians 2:16). Bodily exercise is of some value for our health and well-being in this life. However, what really counts is developing a godly and righteous lifestyle that will count for eternity. What is the point of standing before Christ one day with a finely tuned and gloriously toned body, but we have neglected to live a godly life, which was well pleasing to Him?

1 Corinthians 9: 24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

Training to win is a mind game. We would much rather avoid the duty and do a pleasanter or easier task that requires less responsibility, and commitment. Some days we feel weaker than others, colder than others, in the depths of despair or disinclination. It seems to take a concerted effort to do the task that God has laid before us for that day. I find myself often asking, what is the next right thing before me that God requires, and then a prayer follows. ‘LORD of all, LORD of my life, I am weak, but in you I am strong. Infuse me with your power and strength so that this next task you have set before me, will be done in a way that brings honor to your name. Amen.’

The crucial question is, ‘Do we have the maturity to stand over our emotions and despite our feelings, determine to attend to what God requires of us in the moment?’ There is no way around the fact that the disciplined, committed athlete will win the prize any other way. We must stand as disciples of Christ, not as slaves to our feelings. And though we may be overwhelmed with despondency or discouragement, we must pick ourselves up, and heed the exhortation of Scripture to run the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Praise God, we have all we need in Christ to finish the race well, and be crowned with the prize at the completion!

2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the LORD, shall give me at that day.

If we do not have what we need to finish the race well and persevere with courage, perhaps we just need to ask our LORD. It’s that simple. (James 4:2-3). When our heart is settled in Christ, and our desires are in line with His, we can ask and receive all we need for the determination to ‘set our face as flint’ and finish the race well.

Stepping outside into the frigid climes builds mental resilience and strengthens the muscles that I had forgotten existed. But more importantly, how are we doing building spiritual muscle? Getting up early to pray will build that muscle, so too will serving others (especially those who are ungrateful), reading the Bible and meditating upon what lies therein, singing psalms and hymns when we are discouraged, offering kindness to those in need and continuing to seek Christ’s way, not our own, in every situation all build the spiritual muscle, which often grows weak and wasted.

Let’s be strong, immovable, and steadfast in our LORD, abounding in the work He has called us to do. Our feelings are just that, nothing more. What matters most is obedience to Christ and trusting His provision for the duties and responsibilities He assigns to us each day.

Heavenly Father, I am painfully aware of my inadequacies and inconsistencies. I am weak on my own, with good intentions, but that is all. Fill me with Your power and strength to go beyond my feelings and do obediently and cheerfully what You ask of me today. Thank You Jesus that Your love will sustain me. Amen.”

About Jennifer Woodley

Jennifer is an Australian freelance writer who lives in a small rural town in sunny Queensland. She is passionate about encouraging others on their journey with Christ through writing and mentoring. Jennifer is a school chaplain, wife, mother of three adult sons and loving grandma of one adorable grandson. More of her writing can be found at www.inhisname6.com and www.faithwriters.com.

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  1. So good Jennifer!
    The duties He hands us are always for our own good, physically, mentally, bodily, and soulfully.
    Thank you for the reminder,
    God Bless~

  2. Very good! and appropriate for our times. Disciplining our lives to do what is right is a much needed character trait today. With God’s help we can do it.

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