by Shannon Caughey
As a coach, you tell your athletes that what they eat matters. If they mainly eat junk food, this hinders their progression and performance. But if they consistently eat things with good nutritional value, this helps them grow and thrive athletically. Consuming the right food is an essential element of getting better as an athlete.
Consuming the right “food” is also an essential element of getting better at living for Christ. Jesus points to the “food” we ultimately need in Matthew 4:4 – “The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” In this series of devotions, we’re thinking about how we grow spiritually. By God’s grace, we get better at living for Christ as we do the right things in the right ways with the right consistency. In the last devotion, we looked at one of these “right things”: consistently looking to God in prayer. Now we’ll consider the role of consuming the right food – “every word that comes from the mouth of God” – in getting better at living for Christ.
God’s Word, the Bible, is unlike any other book. Through the Bible, the living God speaks to us, revealing himself and his heart for our lives and our world. It’s no wonder the psalmist proclaims to God, “I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure” (Psa. 119:162). It’s also why Jesus states that we need to consume God’s Word for spiritual nourishment with the same consistency that we eat food for physical nourishment. We will only grow spiritually as we regularly read and reflect on the Bible.
Among the multiple ways in which consistently consuming God’s Word helps us get better at living for Christ, here are three important ones:
1) God’s Word leads us to life in relationship with the Lord.
Near the end of the book of John, we’re told why we’re given this book (and by extension, all of the Bible): “But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name” (John 20:31). It is through the Bible that we encounter Jesus, the only one who can rescue us from spiritual death and give us new and eternal life with God. Jesus himself says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). We deepen our faith relationship with Christ, leading to fullness of life in him, as we consistently take in the means through which he makes himself known to us: the Bible.
2) God’s Word transforms us from the inside-out so that we live for the Lord more fully.
Psalm 19:7 says, “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.” God through his Word changes us from the inside-out so that we become more and more the people he desires for us to be – people who increasingly think, speak, and live in ways that reflect his character and heart. Psalm 119 celebrates the ways we’re enabled live more fully for the Lord as we spend time in his Word: “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (v. 11); “Your word is a lamp to guide my feed and a light for my path” (v. 105); “Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble” (v. 165).
3) God’s Word gives us practical guidance in living for the Lord.
As part of this inside-out transformational work the Lord is doing, through the Bible he gives us very practical guidance for daily living. Here’s how 2 Timothy 3:16-17 puts it: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” Whatever the area of life – coaching, job, relationships, marriage, parenting, dealing with difficulties – God through his Word shows us practically how to live for Christ. Consistently reading and reflecting on the Bible is essential to consistently trusting and following the Lord in daily life.
Coach, you know the impact that your athletes’ diet has on their ability to progress in your sport. Don’t miss the impact of your spiritual diet on your ability to grow in living for Jesus. Make it a priority to consistently consume the nourishment that only the Bible provides. Deepen your relationship with the Lord through time in his Word and he will enable you to get better at living for him.
For reflection: What specific steps is God leading you to take to grow in consistently consuming his Word, the Bible? Talk with him about this. Trust his power and grace to enable you to follow through on these steps.