What is a Christianís Training?
We all know what it is to train and excel.† If a certain athlete wants to excel in his sport he needs to find the right training regimen.† A sprinter will need to do lots of running, different kinds of sprints, lower body weight lifting, and lots of stretching.† A boxer will have to spar, run, jump rope, weight train, and do cardiovascular fitness.† A tennis player will have to play lots of matches, run, do fitness work, weight training, and work on specific shot drills.† So what is a Christianís training?† What must a Christian do in order to become the best Christian he or she can become?† Well, the answer might surprise you.
Some might say a Christianís training is to read the bible.† Some might say prayer or sacrifice (fasting).† Some might say to give or even to work in the church.† Although all of these things are good and necessary, they are not the Christianís ultimate training.† There is one thing a Christian must do in order to train properly.† The Christianís ultimate training is suffering.
To read the bible, to pray, to sacrifice (fast), to give, all of these things are good but they are not training.† They are more like food for the Christian so that he is able to train.† The actual training is the suffering.† So you might ask?† Okay, so how do we suffer (train)?† Easy, you obey.
We as Christians cannot create our own deserts or valleys of suffering.† Whenever we do this then we leave ourselves exit places so that we really donít have to change in the areas we really need to.† Weíve made a decision to go this far, but we wonít go that far.† When we suffer through this self-sacrifice then we are still in control.† Ultimate suffering (sanctification) comes when we lose control, and this can only happen when we obey God.† When we obey God then He engineers our lives and this allows Him to put us in a valley or desert of suffering that we cannot get out of.† He is the author of this valley and the finisher (Hebrews 12:2).† The only thing that will get us out is our faithful obedience which results in suffering (Jeremiah 29:4-7).† Controlled sacrifice does not result in sanctified suffering.†† Sanctified suffering comes when we are not the author of it, and this only happens through obedience because obedience opens the door for God to place us in the exact place He has ordained for us to grow (and change).
1 Samuel 15:22
And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?† Behold, to obey is better than to sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.†
I am going to repeat myself but for edification purposes (Philippians 3:1).† We as human sinners cannot see how simple obedience can be heavier or greater than ultimate sacrifice.† How can simply listening to God be harder than fasting, than penitence, or even total denial?† This is how.† When we create for ourselves lives in which we dictate our own self-sacrifice then our sufferings are engineered by us.† This action puts us in complete control.† Because we are in control then we have the say, and even if the sacrifice is demanding, it has been orchestrated (created) by us.† When we obey God rather than sacrifice then He becomes the orchestrator of our suffering.† Now our obedience, which actually becomes our sacrifice, allows God to bring us into the perfect place, or situations, in which we need to grow.† When this happens we lose all control and we are at Godís mercy.† This allows God to perfectly Lord it over us.† Through obedience we are now in the valley or desert He wants us in, and it is here, and only here, that we will experience sanctified suffering that will ultimately change us for the better.† We can sacrifice all of our lives but if we do not sacrifice in the areas we need to then we will never change and God cannot effectively use us.† Itís like a sprinter doing bench presses.† A sprinter needs to do leg lifts, leg weights, not chest weights.† If he decides to do chest weights then he is going to suffer but that same suffering will not do him much good in the race.† We as Christians sacrifice, but we pain ourselves in areas we are not going to benefit from.† We fast when we should eat and we deny ourselves when we should partake.† But then when the Lord calls us to obey (either by faith, conscience or Spirit) we say, ďNo, thatís okay.† Iíll be better served if I just do this instead.Ē† Not knowing all along that God had a lesson He needed to teach us within our obedience.†
If we do decide to obey God in the little things (Zechariah 4:10) then trust me when I say the obedience will get tougher.† In the beginning God called Abram to follow him but in the end he told him to kill his son.† Our simple obedience now will turn into painful obedience later, but God is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13).† Just know that this is the call of the Christian.† Once a Christianís obedience has made him perfect through suffering, then that Christian has walked in the same steps as our Lord.†††††††††
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;