This Week's Gospel Sermons
June 12 - 17, 2011 Gospel Meeting At Jackson Drive.
Speaker: Bob Hutto
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July 3, 2011
Spiritual Fitness—Good Nutrition
Physical fitnessis something we become aware of when we lose it. That is one of the difficulties in maintaining fitness. We tend to take it for granted and neglect it. Then, illness strikes when we are least prepared to combat it. The price of regaining good health and physical fitness can be very high. What about our “spiritual fitness”?
Most people never give much thought to their spiritual fitness. Like physical fitness, we tend to take it for granted and neglect it. Spiritual illness and hardship can overtake us when we are least capable to overcome it. The cost of regaining spiritual health can sometimes be very high, but the biggest loss comes if we fail to regain and/or maintain our spiritual health — we lose our souls.
Over the years, soft living and failure to pay attention to our spiritual needs can add up. It is a good idea for a person to pause occasionally and take stock to see exactly where he stands spiritually, just as most people run a periodic inventory to see how they are faring in business or in their personal economic goals.
There is no short-cut to good spiritual health. Finally, each person is responsible for his own well-being. It depends on a good spiritual diet, exercise, and a proper mental outlook. It sounds just like taking care of our physical needs, doesn’t it?
Our physical bodies are wondrous machines of God’s design. They require the right fuel, and in the right balance, to operate properly. There are built-in mechanisms that help us take care of ourselves. The most simple of these mechanisms is hunger. When we need food, our bodies have a way of making us feel most uncomfortable.
Spiritually, we need sustenance, also. God makes sure that this demand is met both physically and spiritually. “And yet He left not himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17). “Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6).
Christ Himself promises us that He can fulfill our needs. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35). “Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed.” (John 6:27).
We can’t put just anything into our physical bodies and expect pleasing results—too much junk food and our bodies become unhealthy. If we ingest harmful bacteria or poison, our bodies become sick. We must eat and digest that which is beneficial to our bodies. The same is true spiritually. We need to feed on God’s Word.
As we mature, our needs change. When we are infants we need milk. We then progress to soft foods, then solid foods as we grow. The Spirit knows that this is how we grow spiritually as well. Notice what the writer of Hebrews says about maturing spiritually. “For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. For every one that partaketh of milk is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But solid food is for fullgrown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:12-14).
Fruit is an essential part of a good diet. Perhaps that is why the Spirit used that analogy in Galatians. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23). This “fruit” mentioned here has a sort of “two-edged” meaning. One way we can look at it is to understand that these are attitudes and behaviors that the Spirit provides us—i.e., through our reading, studying, and meditating on the Word of God, we ingest these ideas. The other side is that once we study and practice these things, we will bear this fruit in our lives. This gives a whole new meaning to the old Department of Health phrase, “You are what you eat.”
When thinking of what we eat in a spiritual sense, one should be reminded of the attitude of the prophet, Jeremiah. He was in the midst of a very stressful and intense time of persecution. What was it that enabled the endurance needed to overcome this? It was proper nutrition—living on God’s word: “You who know, O LORD, Remember me, take notice of me, And take vengeance for me on my persecutors. Do not, in view of Your patience, take me away; Know that for Your sake I endure reproach. Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.” (Jeremiah 15:15-16).
If we are not familiar with good nutrition, how can we expect to encourage others to eat right? From a purely physical standpoint, who will we trust to properly inform us about eating the right foods—someone who is the “picture” of health or someone who is sickly and malnourished? Spiritually, we need to be the “picture” of health. Others can tell if we spend time “eating right.” People see our deeds and our attitude and hear our words. Jesus reminds us that the whole world is watching: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16). Of course, not everyone will respond favorably to one who “eats right.” The prophet Ezekiel’s example proves this: “He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth. Then He said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them … yet the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, since they are not willing to listen to Me. Surely the whole house of Israel is stubborn and obstinate.” (Ezekiel 3:3-7).
We all need to begin our lives—physical and spiritual—with good nutrition. Without good nutrition, adequate growth is impossible. In fact, it will result in premature death. A child of God must grow; let’s all determine to watch our diet.
—S. Scott Richardson Sr.