“Don’t miss out on your Championship”
I paid a rare, unplanned visit to the University of Ibadan’s Sport’s Complex a few days back. I hadn’t stepped in as yet when a tennis ball hit out of the grounds, hid itself, leaving me with the responsibility to search and get it back to the tennis players to prevent them stepping out of the sports grounds to get it.
That, coupled with the fact the players trained just in front of the sitting spot I often chose on my past few visits, served as bait – which I took – to watch the two athletes train. I sat, and wondered what lessons I could gain as I watched each slightly plump male tennis player (one in white shorts and a dark polo-shirt, the other in dark shorts and a white vest) move in a part random, part oscillatory way, swinging his racket back and forth at the flying ball in an attempt to keep himself in the game or take the other player out: a somewhat beautiful shot greeted with a wave and word of approval from a third party who sat and observed from the side of the court.
Having watched them practise for some time then pack up and leave, my sought-for lesson hit which I’ll put in a question: what if we exercised our individual spirits as much as Grand-Slam winners exercised their bodies? Then, as Paul rightly puts it in 1Tim 4:8 we would gain benefits in the life to come in addition to the benefits we would gain in that which is; unlike the Grand-Slam winners who gain trophies down here only.
Training one’s spirit aright which implies all round godliness would prepare one for the numerous spiritual matches (temptations and trials) that are guaranteed to come one’s way on one’s journey with Christ; helping one get better (growth) at defeating opponents thus climbing up the rank till one becomes top seed(perfect Christian). One’s ability to defeat opponents (victory over temptation) is consequential to one’s qualifications for individual awards (glories to come). This is a direct contrast to the results of wrong spiritual exercise which leads to perpetual defeats in matches, resulting in a lack of qualification for individual honours.
I therefore think it wise for one to place moderation on physical exercises as staying fit, feeding, attractiveness, and the likes and engage more in the study and practise of God’s Word, prayers, and godly living in general; for in so doing would one build him/herself up a spiritual champion “ready to take on any opponent.”
Perhaps you never availed yourself of the opportunity of holding a ball or racket till this point; physically, I do not see you winning a Grand-Slam (found out you need to begin training at an early age: say 7) but spiritually, never heard of such thing as a too-old-for-it spirit. So, I’ll gladly assist in getting your first set of spiritual balls and rackets and willingly give a hand during this journey like I helped the two athletes pick up their ball hoping you would do the same to someone else who would do same to someone else and so on: which if we all did would see us all get better at this game of life till we became top seeds and found ourselves worthy of the King’s honour. And what a joy that would be!
“For bodily exercise profits little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.”
I Tim 4:8,9
Do not train so you’d go in search of an opponent to display your strength, rather train so you’d be able to take on whatsoever opponent life brings across your way: The former describes willfully going in search of temptation which implies conceitedness and disobedience to that part of God’s Word which asks one to ‘flee all appearance of evil’ (you could ask mighty Samson of the result of defying this rule) while the latter describes being vigilant so the devil doesn’t catch you unawares.