Sunday, August 26, 2018

Working Out and Working In - God's Spiritual Routine

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I may not stick with a new exercise plan very well, but if I got points for all the plans I’ve started, I would have some serious points. Not aerobic points. Just points. I’m in with the gym membership. Then out. In. Out. In. Out. At least it sounds aerobic. Still, I am the Hokey-Pokey of gym members.

Confessing here that most of the time I’m all too flex when it comes to what I label as “my workout.” I’ve “turned myself around” presently and I’m back in at the gym. This time I started gradually, just like I read I should. So for the first week or so, I spent several minutes thinking about yoga pants. Really intently. 

My workout a few days ago was pretty awesome, though. First, I spent 20 minutes walking all over the house looking for my car keys so I could drive to the gym. I counted that. Then after I got there, I spent 20 more minutes trying to untangle my earphones. Counted that, too. Because, hey, I was at the gym. By that time I only had about 10 minutes left and I spent that showering. Workout? Check.

Today’s exercise routine was a bit more intense and I didn’t even do it at the gym. I call it the “there was a sock behind the dryer” workout and I think I was actually sweating this time. Plus, I later burned over 2000 calories. Meaning I left a can of cinnamon rolls in the oven too long. Working out is hard.

Paul gives us some interesting workout instructions when he says to “work out your own salvation” in Philippians 2:12. He’s not talking about working for our salvation. We see clearly in God’s Word that Jesus did all the work that was needed when He died on the cross for us. Salvation is complete. So how can we work it out

The instruction here actually is to allow what’s already on the “in” to show up on the “out.” It’s about obedience. “So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (HCSB). The “how” is answered in the next verse: “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose,” (Phil. 2:13, HCSB).

Workout? Check! His good purpose works its way from the inside out as we grow in obedience, and as we lean into His power. Our goal is to take an active role in our own spiritual growth and allow Him to mature us by staying spiritually engaged. No points for spiritual couch potatoes. 

Allowing Him to work in us doesn’t mean our growth will never be a bit strenuous either. Sometimes working out is hard. Staying disciplined in reading His Word, building His church, continuing consistently in prayer, loving on His people and serving them even when they’re difficult—it’s not always the easiest. 

The good news is that He will even spark our “wanter.” He gives us the ability, yes, but as we trust in Him, He grants us “both to desire and to work out” His calling. There’s blessed victory in seeing the Lord work it out—doing in and through us what we once couldn’t bring ourselves even to desire without His Holy Spirit making it happen. That’s growth. And it brings glory to the Father. And never mind what happens at the gym,that’swhat it’s all about.

Working Out and Working In - God's Spiritual Routine - @RhondaRhea on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

"God's good purpose works its way from the inside out as we grow in obedience & lean into His power." @RhondaRhea on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Rhonda Rhea is a humor columnist for lots of great magazines, including HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and more. She is the author of 10 nonfiction books, including How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person? and coauthors fiction with her daughter, Kaley Faith Rhea. She and her daughters host the TV show, That’s My Mom, for Christian Television Network’s KNLJ. Rhonda enjoys traveling the country speaking at all kinds of conferences and events. She and her pastor/hubs have five grown children and live in the St. Louis area.


  1. Does feeding the farm animals and jumping to conclusions count? If not, does restless leg syndrome? What about counting the times up and down from the tractor as "stair climber" exercises? Lord, why am I not in better shape? Too many "table lifts" You say? Thank you for reminding me of my favorite cartoon--given to me by my wife some years ago--where the man is looking down at the scale and his wife asks "Are you sure your soul needs this much temple?" Thank you for your wonderful humorous approach to life Ms. Rhonda. God's blessings ma'am...

    1. I love your illustrations, Jim. Wow, a farmer, an ex-soldier, businessman, and Christian writer. Blessings on you in each endeavor!

    2. Ha, Jim--good ones. Thanks for your take. :)