1 Corinthians 9:26-27 – So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
I have already told you that I am no marathon runner but I would not call myself a fighter either. Apart from my younger brother, I have never been in a fistfight in my life. Regardless of not being a fighter, I can get the picture Paul paints when he talks about keeping his body under control. We know that he is a goal setter because he does not want to run “aimlessly.” Anyone who has ever trained for anything can relate to that concept.
I remember a few years ago when I realized I had put on a few extra pounds since my college days. I knew I needed to take care of the body God has so graciously given me, and I was sick of feeling as if I was going to die every time I simply jogged down the basketball court. So off I went to get “back in shape.” It did not take me long to realize that I needed some goals, so I started writing everything down. Distances and times for runs, weights used, pushups done, and all that. It is funny that when it comes to fitness we know what it takes to get better and move forward. If we are really serious, we do not just want to get by with our training we want to do everything we can to get the best results. If I just go out for a jog every day and do not have anything to compare one day with the next, how will I know if I have grown at all? I won’t and I will end up stuck in a rut going nowhere.
God wants us to have the same attitude about goals for our spiritual life. I would encourage you to regularly examine yourself and ask God for some spiritual goals. That can be something as simple as reading a certain book of the Bible for a month or spending a certain amount of time in prayer for a season. We do not want these goals to be a checklist that makes us feel more spiritual; they are to help us grow closer to God.
I would also encourage you, do not try to do it all on your own. Hebrews 3:13 – “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Find someone that is almost a spiritual workout partner. Someone you respect that you can be open and honest with about the spiritual goals you want to set. God made us social people and that is no different when it comes to spiritual growth.