Hebrews 6:12 “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”
A few years ago I began experiencing pain in my upper right arm. I was told, among other things, to do stretching exercises every day. I followed these instructions diligently and eventually my arm came back to normal. Normal…until my recent illness.
My stretching routine took a hiatus while I recovered. It wasn’t long until I realized—much to my surprise—the same old arm ache had returned. I could hardly believe how quickly I grew out of shape. When I began exercising again, the pain dissipated.
But it started me thinking about how important it is to keep our spiritual lives fit. After a while, we can begin to take the changes God has made in us for granted. We stop growing. Old flabby patterns start to creep back. We resist forgiving, we shorten our prayer time, neglect the Word, ignore warning signs. The writer of Hebrews was well aware of this tendency and he cautions us not to become lazy lest we fall away. He encourages us to keep exercising the spiritual disciplines.
But he also assures us of God’s grace in our weakness. No matter how many times we slack, the Lord presents us with the opportunity to get back up and try again. Ours is a God who wants us to succeed. He remembers our work and love (6:10-11). When we fail, he encourages us to get back on the treadmill. When we become apathetic he says, “Start stretching again!”
Both laziness and diligence are creatures of habit. It was hard, once I stopped, to get back into the routine of stretching. (Although the pain served as a great motivator). I don’t think God wants us to experience unnecessary hurt to get us moving again. So let’s heed the warning in Hebrews. Let’s be diligent to the end. Let’s imitate the faith and patience of those who have gone ahead. Let’s embrace our inheritance….by keeping fit!