Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8)
As a coach/trainer and pastor, I am still involved in cross training with groups of all ages at our church. “Cross training” is generally defined as a workout program that incorporates a variety of different modes of exercise to develop specific components of an individual’s fitness level.
As the apostle Paul said to Timothy, there is indeed profit to physical training; we do it because we have been commanded to care for our body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. But there is another kind of cross-training that has great value, both now and in the life to come.
How should we define this kind of cross-training, which returns temporal and eternal value? The best definition I have been able to establish is this:
Cross-training is a daily dying to the self and living for the Savior!
Jesus defined what it means to be one of His disciples. He commands us to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. This is not a one-time event in the life of the Christian, as some mistakenly believe. Taking up the cross of Christ is a continual, daily discipline, and only the committed Christian will engage in it. The “cross” you must bear in your life may very well be one thing today and something else tomorrow. Anything that competes with Jesus for the first priority in your life is the cross you must contend with.
Until we have been perfected and brought into glory, our flesh will crave “First Place” in our lives. We are confronted with a decision—not just daily, but moment by moment: will we choose “my will” or “Thy will” to be done in our lives? Make no mistake, dying to self is a real death and it truly is painful! Our sinful nature does not give up easily; there is a constant battle between the old man and the new creation (Galatians 5:17). The only way we will achieve consistent victory is to fight this battle in the strength of the Almighty, using His weapons of spiritual warfare.
Paul expressed this idea beautifully in his first epistle to the Christians in Corinth:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
Clearly, Paul is not speaking here getting out on the track every day to prepare for the 100-metre sprint. He is talking about disciplining himself to live the Christian life—denying worldly desires and seeking to pursue the things of the kingdom of God. This laying down of self does not come naturally; you and I must train ourselves to do it every day!
Here is another example from Scripture, this time from the Hebrews “Hall of Fame of Faith” passage:
By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (Hebrews 11:24-27 ESV)
My prayer for you today is that you will be encouraged to follow the example of truly heroic Christian men like Paul and Moses and cross-train daily; as you do, you can be sure that God will return multiple rewards to you!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!