Friday, December 16, 2016

Profiting From Spiritual Exercises

UV 2149/10000 Profiting From Spiritual Exercises
For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
I Timothy 4 v 8

Physical exercises are useful to develop our fitness and improve our health. It even has some impact on our feeling of wellness and state of mind as exercises stimulate endorphins in the human brain. Intellectual exercises like cracking puzzles, learning riddles, attempting quizzes, reasoning tests, comprehension of various passages, problem solving exercises sharpen the brain. Emotional exercises help to develop a sense of calmness, equilibrium or poise as well as to enhance emotional intelligence, emotional wisdom on how best to handle emotions- one’s own and that of others like fear, anger, anxiety and sorrow. Physical, emotional and intellectual exercises can be counterproductive beyond a certain point. If done excessively can have a deleterious effect on body and mind. All these types of exercises are of some value but St Paul exhorts people to do spiritual exercises that make one godly or like God as these are of infinitely greater value not just for the spiritual realm but in every aspect of life- physical, emotional, social, relational, familial, filial, intellectual, financial, creative.

Spiritual exercises like prayer, meditation, doing good works, sacrifices, giving to the poor, helping others, reading and reflecting on scripture, memorising scripture verses or portions, applying scripture to derive concepts, precepts and practices, fasting, silence and solitude have impact on all the aforesaid aspects of our lives here and now as well as in the hereafter. Just as the regularity, intensity and frequency of various physical exercises affect the level of fitness and development of different muscles and organs of the human body, the regularity, intensity and frequency of our spiritual exercises alter and impact our spiritual development and maturity. Physical exercises often requires a human trainer or coach. The Holy Spirit is our coach or trainer for spiritual exercises. Jesus is our spiritual mentor and model. Physical exercises need a clear space and time meant for it. Spiritual exercises can be done anywhere anytime by anybody. Physical exercises have a limited impact on the character of people but spiritual exercises have enormous impact on our character, ideas, contributions, legacy, productivity and long term holistic profitability.

Often in life people learn only through much pain and suffering the wisdom required to both endure and enjoy life. Spiritual exercises have the great value of learning the lessons of life without the need to go through great pain and suffering. These exercises develop one’s sense of calmness, compassion, courage and creativity- the four C’s of a diamond that the Creator will look for in a human to check if he or she is ready for eternal life in heaven. A lifestyle embedded with several of the spiritual disciplines listed above would make us heir to the many spiritual blessings Jesus promised in the sermon of beatitudes as well as the more mundane and earthly blessings enumerated in Deuteronomy chapter 28 from verse 1 to 14. We become a lightning rod to conduct the power of the Lord and to pass it on to others, a sponge of wisdom and grace to absorb the blessings of the Triune God in spirit, mind and body, to get squeezed by life’s tests, troubles and challenges so that it passes onto others.

Prateep V Philip

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