At the beginning of each new year, being physically fit seems to be a popular subject. According to the dictionary, one definition of fit means to be healthy, strong, able-bodied, prepared, equipped, able, qualified, right, wise. In order to be “fit” many make resolutions to begin a weight-loss program, join a gym, or start an arduous exercise routine. For many, by the middle of January those resolutions are abandoned. While the intentions to work on making the body fit are good, I am reminded that fitness includes more than the body. We should strive to be fit in all areas of our lives. Before I pray for others, I pray for myself. I pray that I will be fit in five different areas – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, and socially. If I am to be all I should be for the Lord and for others, I need these five areas to be right. When one area is not right, it affects other areas. Yes, at times life can be tough, but God is in control. He will help us as we strive to maintain fitness in all areas of life. To me, these verses seem to include these five areas, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart (emotional), with all thy soul (spiritual) and with all thy mind (mental), and with all thy strength (physical); And… love thy neighbour (social) as thyself” (Mark 12:30, 31).
In order to be spiritually fit, our relationship with the Lord should be daily maintained. It should be a priority. Jesus says, “Come unto me… take my yoke upon you, and learn of me… and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). Too often we look to a quiet time with the Lord as a duty, when it should be a delight. The Lord simply says, “Come.”When we do that, He will take over from there. He says, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Take Him at His word. To be spiritually fit does not mean that we pray for hours and read dozens of Bible chapters. It simply means that daily we acknowledge Him and are conscious of Him. If you feel your time with the Lord is a burden, perhaps you are following the requirements of man, rather than following the Lord. To stay spiritually fit, maintain a private, personal relationship with the Lord. This includes talking to Him in prayer and letting Him talk to you by reading and studying His Word, and by meeting with other Christians regularly in your local church. Staying spiritually fit will equip you to handle life’s crises.
Emotions are hard to figure out. Some days we wake up and feel “on top of the world.” But by the afternoon we have slipped under what I call “black clouds.” Hormones and lifestyle play a big role in our emotional fitness. Recognizing these facts can help with the struggle. When our emotions go unchecked, we can cause hurt and harm to those around us, especially to our families. It is important that both your heart and mind agree. Then you will have peace that passes understanding. “Let your moderation (gentleness; self-control) be known to all men. The Lord is at hand (to help you). Be careful for nothing (don’t worry about anything); but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God… shall keep your hearts (emotions) and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:5-7). The Lord cares for us and our emotional struggles. He asks us to cast them on Him (I Peter 5:7). Simply tell Him how you feel and ask for the strength to be emotionally fit.
In today’s society, there are many challenges to our mental fitness. It seems that with all the advanced technology, medical and educational opportunities, we should be more mentally fit. But in some cases the opposite is true. The knowledge of all that is going on in the world is at our fingertips. Violence seems to be getting worse, families are struggling, and marriages are breaking apart leaving children in confusion and fear. Darkness through movies, TV shows, video games and other media, seem to be pervading our country. If we think too long on these situations, we can become mentally unfit. What does the Bible say about mental fitness? “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee…” (Isa. 26:3). “Whatsoever things are true… honest… just… pure… lovely… of good report… think on these things (mind)… and the God of peace shall be with you” (Phil.4:8,9). While we should not put our “heads in the sand” or be unconcerned about the condition of the world, we should keep ourselves mentally fit, focusing on the verses above. Naturally, in some cases there is a need for professional help for mental health.
The Lord has given us good doctors, Christian counselors and psychologists, and effective medications. I feel He is pleased for those in need to seek their help.
Probably most people know what is needed to be physically fit. But it seems it is hard to daily discipline themselves to do it. I struggle with a weight problem. I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers and I try to maintain a regular exercise plan. It is hard, but I feel it is important. Also, I have learned it is important to slow down and rest. We are to glorify God in our bodies, and that requires discipline. As staying spiritually fit will help in time of life-altering crises, so will staying physically fit help when a health crisis occurs. “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost… therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6:19,20). “Come ye yourselves apart… and rest a while…” (Mark 6:31).
By nature I am a shy person and have an underlying fear of rejection. So, staying socially fit is not easy for me. I tend to stay in the background. I’d rather be serving than talking. I have learned that this can be interpreted as “snobbish.” Certainly this is not a good testimony. So, I have made efforts to become more socially fit. Focusing on those around me and giving a genuine compliment has opened the door for conversation. Being alert to emotional needs by giving a hug, being kind and courteous to those who serve in public places, and being involved in activities of my church and community, are good exercises toward social fitness. “And above all things have fervent charity (love) among yourselves… Use hospitality one to another” (1 Peter 4:8,9).
We should desire to be all that God would have us be, being fit in all areas of life – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, and socially. It will take discipline, but it can be accomplished. As Dr. Bill Rice once said, “Pray as if it depends upon God, and work as if it depends upon you.” “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
Are you spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, and socially fit? The choice is yours.
This is written because I care… Carlene