“I am a runner without strength. Soft.”

I started to read an article about developing a full body workout to enhance my runs, but I didn’t get any further than the first paragraph:

I am a marshmallow. After enduring two grueling days of dynamic stretching, strength training, hurdle and sprint drills…the verdict is in: I am a runner without strength. Soft.

“I am a runner without strength. Soft.” That sentence really hit me because I felt like I could substitute the word “runner” with “Christian” and I’d have an equally true statement: I am a Christian without strength. Soft. I don’t strengthen my spiritual muscles regularly; I’m frequently in danger of letting them atrophy. The article’s statement reminded me of several biblical chastisements:

“I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” I Corinthians 3:2

“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.” Hebrews 5:12-13

These authors are saying the same thing to Corinthian and Jewish believers. They had the knowledge of Christ, but were not becoming stronger in their faith. The challenge exists for me, for us, today. Am I soft in my knowledge? Or am I strong, growing, lifting weights of faith to become a more mature Christian?

But here’s the rub: our strength isn’t due to any of our own spiritual weight-lifting sessions. I recently finished a study on Ephesians, and at the end of the book, Paul reminds the believers that the way we become strong is, in a sense, only through Christ.

He writes in Ephesians 6:10-17, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Amazingly, the better I know God, the deeper my relationship is with him, the stronger I am. Instead of being soft, I’m strengthened by holding up the shield of faith and lifting the sword of the Spirit. Of course we have a responsibility to know more about God, but it’s that knowledge that makes us stronger and helps us become obedient and mature. So how are you going to lift weights today?

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