Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Are you fit for use? How to become fit for God's use

I watch a lot of football, I'm a huge enthusiast. Apart from the Gospel of Jesus, football is something I can easily blog about (I don't mean it would be "easy", this just implies that I really like it and it would flow quite seamlessly).

One reason I really like football, apart from its thrill and excitement, is that it is a deep sea of knowledge as it is sort of a depiction of the reality of life.

How, you ask? The game is played by players (which represent those in life who are achieving their dreams), who are they are instructed by coaches (which represent those people, factors and motives that dictate your choices and decisions).

It is played according to certain laid down rules that govern the game (which represent universal laws and principles); it is officiated by a referee (playing the role of God), ensuring strict adherence to the rules, he applies force (yellow and red cards) and issues punishments (free kicks and penalty kicks) where and when necessary.

Then there are spectators (those in life who watch others fulfil their dreams).
Ha! Let's not forget those of us who watch on TV. All we do is yell at the screen in the name of yelling at the players, coaches and referee.

I realise in football that the coach only sends out the players he knows are fit to execute his game plan to play a match. If a player, though skilled, is not fit, he'll watch the game either from the sidelines or treatment table. His skill alone wouldn't be enough to get him into the team. Why? Simple. You can't win with unfit players.

A similar principle applies to spiritual matters.
If God (here representing the coach/manager) doesn't consider you fit (being well versed in the word such that you have a proper grasp of His nature, His will and His ways), He can't send you on to the "pitch", since you won't be able to execute His game plan.

Image source: fairviewatriverclub.org

How to become fit for God's use
How then can you become fit to be used by God? Here's a two-step process (of course, it's not exhaustive, this is just the basics)...

1. Purge yourself (abstain)
"But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honour, some for dishonour. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honour, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work" - 2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NKJV).

The crucial first step to fitness as a footballer (or any professional athlete for that matter) is looking after your body. Professional athletes are mindful of what they allow into their body. They watch what they eat and drink (and for more serious ones, what they sniff). They abstain from anything that will not enhance peak performance and follow a prescribed eating patterns.

Similarly, to be "fit" for God's use, you must avoid certain things - certain friends, certain places, certain music, certain information; things that will not bode well for your spiritual "fitness".

The benefits of abstaining and purging yourself from those things that will not improve (but will rather weaken) your spiritual fitness cannot be over-emphasised.

What you see with your eyes, and hear with your ears enters your heart and shapes how you think, feel and act. Be mindful of what you feed your mind. Your mind is your greatest endowment, protect it. Instead, saturate your mind and spirit with God-inspired content (the Word, music, articles, books, and blogs such as this).

Image source: nightwriterpoet.com

2. Train
"Carefully study to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" - 2 Timothy 2:15 (Douay-Rheims Bible).

"Carefully study..." I like this.
As a footballer, in addition to abstaining from certain foods and activities, you also need to train. Physical training helps to build mental alertness and sharpness (as football is actually played in the mind, then executed with the feet), body strength, and overall footballing ability.

Training involves discipline, diligence, devotion and routine. In spiritual matters, the equivalent of physical training is to study. To study means to carry out research, to investigate, to dig deep for the purpose of discovering new knowledge or improve existing one.

Studying God's word involves devoting time and attention in order to gain new insight and understanding of God's word, His nature, His ways. Just as training involves devoting time and focus in order to gain strength and alertness, so does studying.

How then do you study?
There are no hard and fast rules of studying, you can study using many different approaches. However, here are a few tips (there's certainly more) that I employ...

1. Read related inspired materials (like commentaries, books, articles)
This exposes you to what others think and have gleaned from their own research.
Commentaries are especially great at giving proper perspective of a Bible text. If you can't lay your hands on physical commentaries (such as Matthew Henry's), you can find a few great ones online on websites like Biblehub.com (this site is especially useful for bible study).

2. Meditate (think upon, reflect)
Don't just read, meditate. Meditation helps you see a new perspective to a point, it sheds a whole new light on a subject...regardless of whether it's an age long subject or a more recent one. Meditation ensures you don't swallow every information you're fed with, and also allows you understand what you've been fed better.

While meditating, ask questions...turn the questions asked on their head...question long held beliefs and ideas.

A typical example (for me) when meditation helped birth new insight was when someone uttered the popular saying, "experience is the best teacher" in trying to make a point. I pondered on that, and wondered: "experience may indeed be the best teacher, but what if the student refuses to learn?"

I thought, having the best teacher doesn't guarantee that the student would learn, does it? The same applies to experience - the proverbial best teacher. The onus to learn is on the student who has to sit down, look at the materials the teacher has handed him and pick the lessons.

My conclusion is that a person can be taught by the best teacher around and still not learn; it's not the teacher's fault, but the student's. Experience is, therefore, quite overrated and not as critical as people make it seem. What really matters is, "what have you learned?" You and I know that you don't need experience (though it may be the best teacher) to learn.

I would not have arrived at this understanding which has influenced my thinking without meditating on something I had always heard. Meditation allows the Holy Spirit within teach and reveal things to you. You'd be amazed at the results!

3. Listen to sermons
This is closely to point 1 above. I do this a lot, I mean listen to sermons on a subject I'm trying to understand. Most times, I am not particular about the preacher of the sermon, other times, I may.

Preachers (not all, certainly) put in the effort to research and meditate on the subject they are sharing on, and all that research and thinking goes into their sermon. That's like a goldmine right there!

Sermons are key for me.
Be careful though not to just take everything that is said hook, line and sinker. Instead, allow the Holy Spirit minister to you through the sermon.
So, are you fit? Fit footballers can keep going until the final minutes of normal time (all 90 minutes), and even into extra time; whereas the not-so-fit ones will tire out before the final crucial minutes.
Put in the extra hours - purge yourself, study - and the Master will ensure you are a vessel of honour.


  1. There is so much wisdom in this post. It resonates with me quite well. Thank you!

    I'm currently undergoing some training to be fit for the next phase of my life.

    1. No one goes through God's training school and doesn't come out gold! He'll ensure you're polished till you become shiney! Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. I like the way Matthew 11:28 is written in the message bible. It talks about walk and work. we want to work (be used) for God without walking with God. God says walk with me first ( let me train you, shape you, even break you) before you can work for me. Great post! You really hit the nail hard.....more power

    1. "The walk and the work..." Indeed, God seeks relationship and intimacy with us first before anything else...
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, sir.


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