Monday, January 3, 2011

Washing with Sweat - WEIGHT TRAINING

to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, Ephesians 5:26

In general, I have come to understand building strong, shapely muscle involves exercising to fatigue so that at the cellular level thicker muscle fibers result. I have also learned there are two basic approaches to weight training:

·        Lighter weight, more repetitions, more sets and shorter rest periods (builds volume)
·        Heaver weight, fewer repetitions, fewer sets and longer rest periods (builds strength)1

After a muscle reaches exhaustion, it is best to avoid further strain on it for approximately 24 hours so that repair and growth of muscle tissue can occur. The outcome each body builder expects to achieve in the gym determines which of the two approaches is best for them. I have found a hybrid of strength and volume achieves a balanced outcome for everyday living.

Spiritual transformation at the heart level occurs in me when misguided beliefs I have are transformed by the renewing of my mind and brought in accordance with the Word of God. My husband participates in this process by challenging me with more "weight" per se. This may look like loving an enemy or forgiving someone for a cruel act they are committing against me. It causes me to build strength in my character. He also pushes me to complete more repititions causing me to bring my spiritual muscle to fatigue so that thicker tissue results. This might look like reaching out to the lost and hurting in new and adventurous ways. I am forced to embrace fear and act by faith. 

Listening to a sermon is sort of like watching someone workout. You watch and think to yourself “I ought to try that.” But, whether or not you actualize the truths into everyday life is another thing. Many of us whether watching a workout on television or listening to a sermon, fail to make the lesson a part of everyday life. How about you? Do you think you’re a body builder just because you carry around a gym membership card?

Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

Real spiritual transformation occurs when one’s inner life and outer life are brought in accordance with the Word of God over time through fellowship, applying spiritual disciplines and being restored from the inside out.2

So, how does a Christ follower go about building spiritual muscle and what is the husband’s role in promoting this growth in His wife? A husband can help bring about a permanent lifestyle change not just a temporary resolution by showing her an integrated approach:

·        Participate in a community group applying God’s Word in to everyday life.
·        Follow spiritual disciplines such as prayer, study, rest or fasting.
·        Promote healing and restoration in the fullness of Christ.

When the husband provides encouragement and opportunity for his wife to seek Jesus through increased repetition and spiritual challenge he also encourages her in growing in Christ’s likeness. This process goes on much longer than the one time receiving of grace through Jesus’ death on the cross:

·        Continue to live out your salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)
·        Press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of [you]. (Philippians 3:12)
·        Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk [the Bible], so that by it you may grow up in your salvation. (1 Peter 2:2)

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen (2 Peter 3:18)

Resources to go deeper

Other Posts in the Series: Washing With Sweat  A six week blog series answering the question "What does it mean for a husband to prepare his bride for Christ?" It's this woman’s journey with Ephesians 5:26. It is encouraging for men and women that are married, were married, want to be married, or would like to be married again.