You might've heard the old joke "When I feel the urge to exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes." When it comes to spiritual health, you can't be passive. You need to exercise your faith. If you don't, you'll become like so many others in the church: a pew potato.
As Paul wrote in Philippians 2, "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (vv. 12-13). From these verses, let's look at five ways you can have a great spiritual workout:
1. Get a good trainer. Paul began this passage by saying, "Therefore" because he had been talking about Jesus' example of love and humility. Who better than Jesus Christ to train you in all things spiritual? The real key to spiritual success is beginning with the right template, and that is Jesus.
2. Pump some iron. "Work out your own salvation." Some people take this to mean you can earn your salvation. But Paul didn't say work for or work at your salvation. When it comes to salvation, God has done all the work. But you have to pump some iron in order to grow as a believer, cooperating in the process of working out that which God has worked in you.
3. Follow a personal plan. "Work out your own salvation" (emphasis added). A personal trainer at a gym will tailor-make a training schedule specifically for you. In the same way, you have your own relationship with the Lord, so don't concern yourself with His plan for everybody else. Follow His plan for your life, and use the gifts He's given you.
4. Don't flex in the mirror. There's always that guy at the gym who's in love with the mirror, especially when he's in it. But Paul said, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." This means having a tender conscience toward God in wanting to do right, living in such a way that you're not hurting His heart. So don't get cocky, even if you are a great spiritual athlete.
5. Use power supplements. "It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." The idea is to work hard to obey and serve God, because He is working in you. He gives you the desire to do His will and then He gives you the power to pull it off.
God's ability is so beyond ours that it's humbling to read that we work out what He works in us. But He loves to work with us to accomplish His purpose—and we should be grateful He has a grand plan that includes us.