I used to have toned muscles. Many moons ago when we lived in a bigger city and had two less children, I belonged to a gym, where I split my time between the elliptical and the resistance machines. I went three or four times a week, and with regular use, my muscles got stronger and more toned. But when we moved I didn’t have a gym available, and with the addition of another baby, it was too hard to coordinate anyhow. So my muscles weren’t being used in the same ways, and therefore lost their nice toned look. Recently I noticed just how un-toned they are, so I determined to strengthen them again. I found an app that led me through various exercises, and I felt great doing them––wall push ups, overhead presses, triceps dips. Ah, it was good to be working the various muscle groups. But the next day, those same muscles were pretty sore, and I had to admit a harsh truth––I’m not as in shape as I used to be.
If you don’t use it, you lose it. So goes the old adage. And to some extent that is true. If you don’t practice an instrument, you’ll eventually forget how to play it. If you aren’t practicing that foreign language you took in high school, you’ll forget most of it. If you quit exercising, you’ll get flabby triceps. But does the same hold true for faith? That’s sort of a tricky question, because on the one hand, faith doesn’t depend on us. It’s a gift of God, who calls us to faith and keeps His children in the saving knowledge of Jesus. But at the same time, many Christians have been led astray not by any fault of God, but by their own fault. They are like the seeds in Jesus’ parable that fell on rocky ground, where they sprouted quickly but had no root, and therefore fell away in a time of testing. This idea of being rooted is interesting. What does a Christian need to be rooted in? God’s Word, of course. If we are to withstand the attacks of this world, we need to spend time daily in the Word. Personal Bible study and prayer are important, but so is corporate worship, where we hear God’s Word preached to us and receive absolution and Holy Communion for the strengthening of our faith.
If I want to strengthen my arm muscles, I’m going to do a certain number of reps per week. This idea of repetition is important. Unless you repeat the exercises, they’ll do you little good. A one-time marathon training session isn’t going to help a person tone his muscles over the long haul. That would be nice, but it takes time and a long-term commitment if you want to see lasting results. The same is true of the Christian walk. Think Confirmation here––one or two years of instruction aren’t enough to carry a person through his life if he decides to stay away from the church ever after. And yet many people unfortunately do just that.
Consider Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 3:14-17. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
That’s a pretty compelling list of the benefits of being in the Word. Paul exhorts Timothy to continue in what he had learned. It’s not a one-time deal, folks. You’ll never reach a point where you know it all or don’t need God’s Word to teach, correct, and guide you. There are many out there who would love to lead you astray, even some who call themselves Christian and yet teach things contrary to the Bible. How can you know if someone is correctly preaching and applying God’s Word if you aren’t immersed in that Word yourself? The Bereans in Acts 17:11 are commended because they “received the message [of the Gospel] with much eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Would that the same be said of us!
In Ephesians 6, Paul lists the armor of God, and it’s interesting to note that the one offensive weapon is the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” That’s how powerful His Word is. We can use it to combat the lies and attacks of the enemy. But again, how can we properly wield that sword if we don’t know the Scripture?
So go ahead, pick up that Bible. Spend time in God’s Word today. He will strengthen you as He sees fit. And you won’t even have sore muscles tomorrow.