Devotional: ‘Working Out in God’s Gym’

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Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

I have never been a great athlete. Though I played a few sports in high-school, I was never the star. But although I am not a great athlete, I do value being in good shape.

One thing I have learned about working out – in order to improve you have to push yourself beyond what is comfortable and convenient. Years ago there was a saying that floated around locker rooms and gyms – “No Pain, No Gain.” That is true, both physically and spiritually.

The writer of Hebrews uses that concept in order to help us understand the value of spiritual chastening.

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

It is the Greek word for ‘exercise’ (gumnazo) that we get the English word – gymnasium. Whenever the Lord brings chastening into our lives, it is like an athlete training his body. Athletes exercise vigorously in order to develop their physical strength and endurance. God puts us through vigorous spiritual exercises in order to develop our spiritual strength and endurance. How does He do this?

Each and every problem in life is an opportunity to exercise our faith. During each test we are forced to answer the question: ‘Will I trust in God and His care for me during this situation, or will I doubt Him and His goodness?’ Just like a weightlifter who matches his strength against the weights, so the believer’s faith is matched against His problem. As the weightlifter consistently works out with ever increasing amounts of weights, his muscles become stronger and more powerful. As the believer’s faith is consistently worked out against the ever increasing problems of life, his or her faith grows stronger and more powerful.

I pray that these studies on spiritual chastening have been an encouragement to you. In closing I once again remind us of the words of scripture:

My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly,
or faint when you are reproved by Him;
for the Lord disciplines the one He loves,
and punishes every son whom He receives.

Endure it as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons.
For what son is there whom a father does not discipline?

But if you are without discipline-which all receive-
then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us,
and we respected them.
Shouldn’t we submit even more
to the Father of spirits and live?

For they disciplined us for a short time
based on what seemed good to them,
but He does it for our benefit,
so that we can share His holiness.

No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful.
Later on, however, it yields
the fruit of peace and righteousness
to those who have been trained by it.

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