— By Barrett Vanlandingham
I could definitely stand to be in better physical shape. A lot of my friends are constantly training for one race or another. A 5K here, a 10K there. Staying in shape is important. The same can be said for our spiritual shape.
Each of the New Testament writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, James, Jude, and the unidentified writer of Hebrews) talk about the importance of staying faithful to God.
With so much attention given to this issue, the obvious question to ask would be, “Why is that important?” After all, in the world we live in today, obeying the commands of God who we haven’t seen is not exactly the most popular way to spend our time. In fact, most people couldn’t care less about walking a narrow path to a place they’ve only heard about (Matthew 7:13-14).
Even some Christians would go as far as to say that it is not important to even try to be good since we are saved by grace anyway. And while it is true that God’s grace saves us, this does not give us a free pass to simply live life on our own terms and disregard God’s will for us as New Testament Christians. The apostle Paul made that clear in Rom. 6:1-11 and Gal. 5:4.
Paul also warned Christians in Corinth that as they run the Christian race, they should run in a way to get the prize instead of running aimlessly. He encourages Christians to not fight spiritual battles like a boxer who just swats at the air. He says it is important for us to not only tell others about Christ, but to make sure we ourselves are also staying fit spiritually.
“No, I beat my body and make it a slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (1 Cor. 9:27).”
Paul knew what it was like to butt heads with God. It didn’t work very well for him (Acts 9) and it will not work very well for us either. Maybe that’s why he wrote so much on this topic after he became a Christian.
The apostle Peter also encourages Christians to stay faithful til the end. He goes as far as to say that we should be careful what we believe about Scripture because of how some people distort the meaning of the message.
“Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen (2 Peter 3:17-18).”
God promises to reward your earnest efforts in running the race and seeking him (Hebrews 11:6). This verse and many others in the New Testament disqualify half-hearted attempts to please God. Spend some time in fervent prayer everyday, asking God to guide your steps. You will surely notice a big difference in your life, and in the lives of those you come in contact with. Have a blessed week!