Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. Hebrews 12:12-17, ESV
Most mornings, after breakfast, I trek out to the garage to exercise. I plan to do it every morning, but only accomplish it most mornings. I am sure you can imagine why my every becomes a most. I do not exercise because it is fun, but because I need the benefit that comes from it. Many mornings it is all I can do to push through my routine and some mornings, faced with the prospect, I choose to have another cup of tea instead. Faced with the reality of “no pain, no gain,” sometimes I choose “no pain.”
The author of Hebrews uses the metaphor of physical fitness to call us to diligence in our efforts at spiritual fitness. Christ suffered violence at the hands of sinners so we might have eternal victory over sin. Now He helps us in our striving for practical victory over sin in this life, for spiritual fitness, by disciplining us. Even though there is pain in the discipline, we find that “it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (12:11).
It is time to the hit spiritual gym. In Hebrews 12:12-16, we are given two exercises to perform “so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”
We are to exercise our peace muscles. The key to this relationship-building workout is drive out the “root of bitterness” that destroys peace in our relationships. With reference to Deuteronomy 29:18, we are told to do spiritual exercises to improve our contentment muscles, focusing on the grace and mercy of God toward us and letting that shape the way we relate to others. We are to work out any desire to be a grumbler who leads others to doubt the goodness of the one true God and seek after false gods.
We are also to exercise our holiness muscles. This includes fighting against sexual immorality and against the general kind of unholiness we see in Esau’s willingness to accept instant gratification at the cost of his birthright. Hebrews has already made it clear that the best kind of exercise for building holiness muscles is to set our eyes on Jesus: to consider what He has done for us and strive to follow His teaching and example.
Once I post this entry, I am going out to the garage. It is leg day. It will hurt, but I will be better for it. Then I will have about fourteen hours today to exercise peace and holiness muscles. When I stumble, fail, receive discipline, repent, and receive forgiveness it may hurt. But I will be better for it.
I pray that God will bless your exercise routine today, too.