When I think of a strong man, immediately I see a man with broad shoulders, massive arms, big chest and ripped abs. This hulk-like beast impresses me not so much because of his size, but because of his ability. I’ve watched with awe as such a man lifts telephone poles over his head, bends metal with his arms, or even pulls a tractor trailer with brute force. These feats of strength are a testament to the man’s hard work over many years of intense training. There is much we can learn from such an individual, not just in shaping our physical body, but also in building our Spirit.
Paul when writing to his own spiritual son from prison admonishes Timothy, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1). Be STRONG! Not in the physical, though it does have some benefit. Not in your thinking, though that is of great benefit as well. No, Paul says be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. In other words…Timothy, become a spiritual strong man!
There is a decision that each of us can make and need to make to strengthen ourselves in the grace of Jesus. That grace enables us to build ourselves up in our faith, to stand strong in the midst of any trial and to be able to display great strength in any circumstance. We can be a spiritual strong man…if we choose to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus!
So how do we do this? What lessons can we learn from the strong man?
The first lesson is his DIET. The strong man does not eat what the average man eats. He fills his diet with high amounts of proteins to build muscle. He eats complex carbohydrates to supply energy to his body and he ensures that he is ingesting the right vitamins and minerals to keep his body healthy.
It is just as important that the spiritual strong man watches his diet. Are you filling yourself with the Word of God daily? Are you becoming heart healthy by hiding that Word within your heart. Jesus said that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4). If we hope to become strong in the grace of Christ Jesus, then we must eat of His flesh, His Word!
Take a look at Matthew 4:4 again. It says every word that “proceeds”. I love the fact that Jesus said this in the present tense. Because just as it is important to know what God said in His Word, we must also know what God is saying now. A spiritual strong man doesn’t just get in the Word of God on a daily basis, but also in the face of God as well. How else will you know what God is saying if you are not spending time with God each and every day listening to His voice?
A good spiritual diet is so important if you wish to become a spiritual strong man!
The second lesson we can learn from the strong man is DISCIPLINE. The strong man is disciplined in every arena of his life. He wakes early in the morning to run, he visits the gym daily and follows a strict routine. He disciplines himself within in his diet abstaining from things that would not be beneficial. Everything that the strongman does is weighed in the balance of how it will help or hurt his goal.
If we are to become strong in the grace of Jesus then we must also discipline ourselves in every arena of our lives. We must stick to our schedule of daily devotion and prayer, we must abstain from sinful activities and even frivolous activities that waste time and are of no benefit. We must keep the spiritual junk food out of our homes.
As the writer of Hebrews admonishes us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Heb 12:1).
If we desire to be a spiritual strong man then we must exercise great self discipline, throwing off every hindrance and running our spiritual race with great endurance.
Which leads to the final lesson we can learn from the strong man, DETERMINATION. The strongman did not get strong overnight. He worked years to cultivate and shape his body. He woke early in the morning to run, he pushed through the pain in the gym, he didn’t stop even when his body screamed for rest.
We too must understand that becoming a spiritual strong man is not going to happen overnight. We are going to have to sustain a lifestyle of determination and perseverance. We have to face every trial and test with full faith and resolve that we will not stop, we will not falter, we will not quit.
I truly believe that determination is a quality that God not only looks for in a spiritual strong man, but also desires to cultivate within each of us.
Peter writes, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1Pet. 5:10).
Strong, firm and steadfast. Peter tells us that God’s grace (which Paul says to be strong in) will not only restore you, but also make you strong, firm and steadfast – that’s determination!
Determination, or perseverance, is truly what makes a strong man, naturally and physically. I stated that I am not impressed so much by the sheer size of a strong man, but by his ability. This is because there are ways to build bulk but not strength. A man may look strong externally, but when put to the test his strength gives way. A true strong man is able to withstand the test proving that his training was legitimate. This is why James writes, “because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4).
Diet, discipline and determination are the three things we can learn from the strong man and three traits that if adapted to our spiritual lives will also make us strong men! So be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Make the decision to consume the right spiritual diet, discipline yourself in all areas of life and remain determined to the end enduring any test or trail that may come your way. That is what makes a spiritual strong man!