Purposeful Exercise

Jennifer Lim, Guest Writer, South Barrington | March 31, 2023

This is what the Lord Says: Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this; that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. 

Jeremiah 9:23-24

Several months ago, somehow, I was convinced to sign up for an 8k run. Over the last month or so, I’ve been training by running every few days, slowly increasing the distance and speed. It’s been a while since I’ve consistently worked out, but I felt pretty good about myself. I could finally do some physical activity and not feel tired or worn out too early. 

So when my husband, who used to work as a ballroom dance instructor, thought it would be fun for us to go to a dance event, I thought, “why not? Most of these people are much older than me. I should be fine. I think I can keep up!” 

Did you know that you use different muscles for running than for dancing? Because the muscles I used for running felt useless that night. Not only was it hard to keep up during the event, with people many decades older than I continuing for longer and with more skill than I had, but I was also sore for DAYS afterward. And in places I didn’t even know I used!

Purpose makes a difference in the way we train, and that applies both to our physical bodies and our spiritual lives. Had I made it a goal that I wanted to be able to dance longer and with more skill, my training regimen would have differed greatly.

Jesus knew this well; “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-3). Jesus knew his purpose; his life and ministry were daily exercises in doing what God cared about. His life is a reminder that what God cares about is people, his most precious created work. When we align our lives around our purposes, in fulfilling our own agendas, we exercise the kinds of spiritual muscles that might look nice to others but end up wasting space. At the end of our lives, they won’t matter very much. Instead, we are called to exercise “kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth,” and in these, God delights

Next Steps

  • Take a moment to reflect on an experience that brought you delight or a time when someone expressed their satisfaction in you. Imagine that God feels this way about you, and sit with that for a while. 
  • What are some daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly ways to “exercise” the muscles of kindness, justice, and righteousness in the community and people around you