Spiritual fitness is to your soul and spirit what physical fitness is to your body.
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All truths are parallel. It is therefore imperative that immense attention should be paid to the parallelism of the spiritual and physical.
“Man lives in two worlds: He lives in the natural world … and, he lives in the spiritual world. What is manifested in the natural world is a reflection of what is happening in the spirit world.”Morris Cerrulo
What does it mean?
Being physically fit might mean different things to each one of us. For Nicky Gumbel, “physical fitness is a balance of strength, flexibility, aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Some people are exceptionally strong but cannot even run to catch a bus. Others are aerobically very fit (they could run a marathon), but are not very strong.”
Likewise, spiritual fitness would mean different things to different people depending on the form of spirituality being practiced. Most people practice one form of spirituality; some practice multiple forms of spirituality. Even the military, to my surprise, inculcate spirituality in their rigors:
According to The Air Force, spiritual fitness is the ability to adhere to beliefs, principles, or values needed to persevere and prevail in accomplishing missions. As this definition implies, spiritual fitness does not require any degree of religiosity or belief in the supernatural. Atheists who hold a secular philosophy of meaning and purpose can be spiritually fit as well. Spiritual fitness may include any of the following: belief in transcendent meaning and purpose, self-transcendence, a sense of morality, engagement with a community with similar values, altruism, religiosity, religious or spiritual practices or behaviors, or exceptional experiences, such as visions … An article in a special issue of the journal Military Medicine on the Total Force Fitness model (Jonas et al., 2010) defined the spiritual fitness domain as “fitness of the spirit or soul, especially from a religious aspect” (Hufford, Fritts, and Rhodes, 2010).
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“Within particular religious and spiritual traditions one finds very different definitions of spiritual fitness, such as being saved (evangelical Christian), being in a state of grace (Catholic), and being able to stay “in the moment” and maintain a self-transcendent view during stressful situations (Buddhism). To assert that some meaning of these concepts is correct, that it is true spirituality, would endorse some spiritual viewpoints while dismissing others. That would be inappropriate to scientific inquiry as well as to the U.S. military”
Both physical and spiritual fitness requires us “to be fit and resilient warriors who are ready in every way for war.”
Religion versus Spirituality
“Religion refers to spiritual institutions (e.g., Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.). … Spirituality depends on diverse beliefs about the soul, theological debates, and so forth.” The key word is diverse. One’s form of spirituality could believe in the worship of trees, animals, ocean, iron, etc. Worshiping self or nothing could be another form of spirituality.
A parallel might be where some folks who are pescatarian, vegan, or vegetarian deride meat lovers for their indulgences. The meat lovers might also feel that they are the real deal gobbling down their protein intakes. To each their own. Who is to say whose is better or healthier? Undoubtedly, those who practice a particular religion or maintain specific dietary forms often swear by them and are aware of the benefits.
Gumbel believes that spiritual fitness is far more important than physical fitness.
All fitnesses, whether spiritual, physical, or natural, require balancing in a number of areas of one’s life.
I agree with Gumbel. But whether you fully agree with him or not, I hope that you will agree that a balance is necessary not only in spiritual fitness, but generally in our lives. Here are a few areas where Gunbel advises balance:
Humility vs Confidence. “The key to keeping this balance is to avoid self-confidence and to practise humble God-confidence, ensuring that your confidence comes not from your own abilities or successes, but from trusting in the Lord.”
Truth and Love. “Love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth. Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love … truth and love complement one another.”
Divine and Human. Like Jesus being fully divine and being fully human, we, also, though human possess divine attributes; we have a spirit and a soul in a body (tripartite beings). As lovers and followers of Christ, we have the capacity to be all that he was/is.
Vision and Action. Visions don’t work unless you do … ‘no chief executive was ever fired for lack of vision’. But many are unable to put their vision into action.
How to ensure spiritual fitness
“... let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”
(Hebrews 12:1 NKJV)
From a disciple of Jesus Christ’s perspective, one can ensure spiritual fitness by praying, fasting, praising and worshiping, reading/studying and meditating on God’s Word, being obedient to God and His Word, loving all, and being a good ambassador of the Kingdom of God. This list is inexhaustible, but merely serves as a starting point. The most important thing is to ask and listen to the Holy Spirit for the areas that you need to develop.
May God help us all to be fit; spiritually, physically, and naturally, and maintain the necessary equilibrium.
- Day 340 of Bible in One Year with Nicky Gumbel (main reference)
- “Spiritual Fitness Definition and Key Constructs.” Spiritual Fitness and Resilience: A Review of Relevant Constructs, Measures, and Links to Well-Being, by Douglas Yeung and Margret T. Martin, RAND Corporation, 2013, pp. 5–28. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/j.ctt5hhv6n.8. Accessed 6 Dec. 2020.