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Real Gains

Spiritual Training Cycle: Foundation (wk. 4/13)

It’s not long after starting a fitness journey that we begin to wonder how good, strong, fast, and fit we could get. It’s one of the best parts of fitness, imagining and realizing our potential. Sadly, we don’t usually take the same approach with our faith. Sure, we may imagine a day when we don’t struggle with lust, hold on to grudges, or live in doubt. But that is not the same.

When it comes to fitness, we dream about what we could do.

When it comes to faith, we often dream about what we won’t do.

The Bible doesn’t see it this way. Scripture is far more concerned about the type of person you will become than avoiding sin. Someone who is loving, kind, joyous, and patient. (See Galatians 5:22-23 for a more complete list.) Jesus believed that you could experience the level of peace that He did. James dreamed of you being more generous than you ever imagined. And Paul… well, Paul left us with a series of prayers that he prayed for you and me.

Philippians 1:9-11

9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Four Things to Know About Your Potential

1) Your love will continue to PR: Verse nine literally says: your love will surpass itself. Think about that – just as you are becoming stronger in the gym, the more you follow Christ, the more loving you’ll become.

2) You will have more awareness and insight: God doesn’t want you to be clueless. He wants you to be astute about what is going on. Jesus is always reading the hearts of those around Him. He’s aware and insightful. God wants this for you too. Following Christ teaches us how to be aware of what is really going on in our hearts and in the hearts of others.

3) You will be wise: Life is complex. We are faced with choices and opportunities every day, many of which will affect our lives for months, if not years. How do we sort through all the options, weigh the outcomes, and make the right choice? This is the work of wisdom. Paul believes that you could be the type of person who makes wise choices not just for yourself but gives the advice we’re all looking for.

4) You will be filled with all the good stuff: Imagine if every year you were more joyful, more love-filled, more patient, more loyal, and filled with more kindness. This is what Paul has is mind for us. That we would be filled with the fruits of righteousness, the fruits of the Spirit. That we would live into our God given potential. These are real gains.

Questions for Reflection:

What about your potential makes you most excited? How have you seen God already developing that in you?

Name 3-5 people who will benefit most from you being a more loving and joyful person.

How would more awareness and wisdom change how you engage at work, at home, or with family and friends? How would life be different in those areas?

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