Many people these days hire personal trainers to help them achieve their fitness goals. The benefits they site include:
- Motivation and encouragement
- A personalized routine, designed to produce maximum benefit for the time and effort invested
- Injury prevention
- Up-to-date information on health, nutrition, and fitness
Actually I have a Personal Trainer (you do, too) but for a far more important aspect of life than physical fitness. God is at work to “enlarge my heart.”
“I shall run the way of your commandments,
for you will enlarge my heart.”
Psalm 119:32, HCSB
I do need his help to “run the way of [his] commandments,” just as the psalmist wrote eons ago (quoted above). Too often I’m side tracked onto self-chosen paths.
But how does God enlarge my heart to run his way?
First he initiates a change of heart.
“For it is God who is working in you,
enabling you both to desire and to work out
His good purpose.”
Philippians 2:13, HCSB
And one day he will complete the process. We will be like Jesus (1 John 3:2). Can you imagine? One day we’ll finally become the holy and perfect people we’ve always wanted to be!
In between initiation and final transformation, we run:
- To work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12),
- With perseverance (Hebrews 12:1),
- That we may obtain the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24).
The Christian life involves effort on our part, much as physical fitness requires effort. Just hiring a personal trainer won’t get us healthy and strong; we must take responsibility to follow the trainer’s instructions.
Similarly, while being responsible to exercise diligence and discipline in order to become spiritually mature, we also depend completely on what God supplies.
“We must work out what God has worked in.”
And what has God worked in? Everything we need for life and godliness:
- Knowledge of him and his Word (2 Peter 1:3)
- His Holy Spirit, our Enabler (Romans 8:9)
- Wisdom (James 1:5)
- Power (Colossians 1:29)
- Strength (Psalm 73:26)
- Faith (Ephesians 6:16)
Yes, even our faith comes from him (Hebrews 12:2).
Now perhaps you’re one of those who have experienced the euphoria of being in “the zone,” during your workout. Once your heart rate is up, the blood is pumping, and your muscles are executing every move with precision, you experience a surge of energy and great pleasure in the activity.
I have never experienced that zone. My daily workouts involve uncomfortable huffing and puffing, aching muscles that beg me to “Stop with the push-ups already!” and downright boredom. (After decades of jumping jacks, they’re getting a bit old.)
But it’s the results we’re after, isn’t it, including better heart health.
The function of our spiritual hearts is also improved by the application of exercise in the form of difficulties, hurt, illness, discouragement, and more.
Wait a minute! How does hardship improve spiritual heart health?
God uses such circumstances to produce such results as fully developed maturity.
“When troubles of any kind come your way,
consider it an opportunity for great joy.
For you know that when your faith is tested,
your endurance has a chance to grow.
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed,
you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
James 1:2-4, NLT
I may never experience the euphoria of the zone during physical exercise, but James’ assurance here promises a zone of joy as I allow God to enlarge my heart and choose to persevere through the challenges of life his way.
Talk about perfect results!
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Heavenly Father, I praise you for working into my life everything I need in order to become “perfect, complete, and needing nothing.” With your gracious provision, may I pursue the way of your commandments, and experience your euphoric joy!