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IN TOUCH WITH GOD    by Edward Heppenstall

Personal Responsibility August 15


Keep yourself in training for the practice of religion. The training of the body does bring limited benefit, but the benefits of religion are without limit. 1 Tim. 4:7, 8, N.E.B.

In this passage Paul compares the athletic exercises and sports of the Greeks with the highest training in godliness. The first can avail for good, but ends in this life. Godliness is profitable especially for the life to come. Two crucial factors are set before us—the right priorities or perspective in life, and personal discipline and self-control.

The present generation devotes far more attention to the discipline of the body than to discipline of the soul. Physical fitness is essential for all of us. The health of the mind depends to a large extent on that of the body. What Paul objects to is a wrong perspective. Where do we expend our time, effort, and money? Are we far less concerned with spiritual fitness than with physical? Has the latter become more attractive than spiritual fitness? What really has priority with us?

Both areas require discipline and self-control, but spiritual training provides us with a far more enduring purpose than any system of physical exercise. No clear-thinking person would deny that it is better to be morally and spiritually good and upright than to be physically strong. Spiritual development is the work of a lifetime. Therefore it involves as much constant and strenuous exercise of the mind and heart as does physical fitness.

To achieve physical fitness we must avoid smoking, drinking, and all those foods and practices that tend to weaken the body. Similarly, in the spiritual life we are to control those appetites and desires that make godliness impossible.

We are spiritual and moral athletes for Christ. Self-control and personal discipline are as much required of us as of the artist, the musician, the scientist, and the athlete. The Lord Jesus is our trainer. The discipline of the Christian life is a grand experience under Christ. It is the invigorated life, the equipped life, the victorious life.

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