How to improve your spiritual fitness

Spring is coming! The days are slowly getting longer and gradually we are seeing more sun.

Physical fitness is all very well. But as spring approaches, spiritual fitness is what really counts.(Photo: Alex Bramwell)

Along with that, gym memberships are on offer, summer holidays are being booked and most of us are dreading the prospect of the "beach bod".

But as our attention is drawn to physical fitness, let's not forget about spiritual fitness too.

Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour. It sounds quite ominous and oppressive but actually discipline, training our bodies spiritually, can help us into better service of Christ.

Some Christians focus so much on grace and the belief we are saved by faith that they snub any mention of discipline for fear they will drifting into being saved by works. This is bad for your theology and bad for your character.

When Martin Luther espoused his "saved by faith and not works" he never intended Christians to reject discipline. By contrast, exactly because of the grace we have been given, we should be even more resolute in the pursuit of discipline out of gratitude. Christ calls us to a life based on loving one another, of selflessness and of service.

But a life based on love does not consist of sporadic acts of generosity. It is a constant attitude of selflessness that pervades our whole life, whether at work or at home. But building such a life does not happen overnight. It requires time and, well, discipline.

By training our bodies with spiritual disciplines, we can develop Godly habits and turn what was once a chore into a regular part of our lives.

There are a number of disciplines to consider in order to become spiritually fit. But let's begin with the discipline of service.

We would all like to be more servant-hearted. We would all like to be more selfless and consider others above ourselves more often. But how do we get there? It seems such a vague and ominous task that we often desire but rarely achieve.

Well discipline can help. It is generally recognised that it takes 21 days to create a habit.

So if you commit to consciously doing one act of service every day for a month, it will become a habit. It will no longer be a chore or something you think about, it will be part of your character – one step further along to being a more loving, selfless person. It could even be a belated Lent commitment. 

Now this could be resolving to do the washing up. It could be helping a family member with part of their routine. It could be talking to an unpopular colleague or classmate.

It doesn't have to be much. It certainly doesn't have to be any great feat. It is just the commitment to serving every day that will create the habit.

And gradually, that day-by-day commitment to discipline will become the norm. Looking for opportunities to serve others first and yourself second will become a natural part of your character and, through the simple application of discipline, you will become a very little bit more like Christ.