I’m not a person who goes to the gym a lot, but I’ve got plenty of friends who do. I know some people who enter into body building competitions as well. It turns out that there’s a difference between muscle building and strength training. I always assumed very muscular people were super strong, but strength isn’t what they’re going for. Muscle building works to induce bulging muscles and increase muscle size. However, in strength training you’re trying to increase the functionality of your muscles. I love the idea of that. It’s not just about looks, but ability. Many people who go to the gym hope to get toned, but what they need to be doing is strength training instead.
Consider that understanding as we look at Ephesians 6:10. Paul wrote, “Finally, build up your strength in union with the Lord and by means of his mighty power” (GNT). Paul didn’t ask us to build up our spiritual muscles so we look good. He told us to build up our strength so we can have endurance and increased functionality in the Body of Christ. So many of us spend so much effort trying to look good by doing things that get noticed, but that’s the equivalent of body building. We need to be in strength training instead ready to fight spiritual battles, to carry other believers who need help and to endure hardships. Spiritual strength is what we need most.
Just like someone who is in physical strength training, spiritual strength training requires consistency. You must consistently pray, read the Bible and apply God’s principles to your life. Stepping out in faith in areas where God leads you is another way. You gain strength when you keep trusting in God during difficult times when your mind and others tell you that you should be cursing Him instead. You must push yourself beyond your current abilities and situations to the point it challenges you. Until you do that consistently, you’re not building your strength. If we’re not willing to stretch our faith through application of God’s principles, it’s no different than going to the gym, sitting on the equipment and never using it. You can know how to do it, but you only build your strength when you actually apply what you know.