For the last few weeks I have been receiving physical therapy for my neck because, evidently, you don’t get to keep your thirty year old neck when you are in your sixties. That and the fact that when I was in the furniture business I would carry sofas and chairs on my head might have something to do with it.

     These therapists give you all sorts of exercises to do and that’s fine as long as we (I mean, “I”) keep doing them at home. But the main thing they talked to me about was posture. I remember my mother telling me to stand up straight! The teachers back in my day didn’t hesitate to tell us the same thing. But over the years I guess I let my efforts at good posture slip. Turns out that is not a good thing to do!

     As I’ve been going through this process a couple of spiritual applications have come to mind. The first has to do with the matter of exercise. As Paul told Timothy, “But reject profane and old wives fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8). As good as physical exercise is, spiritual exercise is better.

     Spiritual exercise may seem hard to define, but once you think a little, it comes down to living the Christian life. The Christian life can be seen as having three elements: study, prayer and service. Study is the foundation because we would not know how to live this life without direction from God (Jeremiah 10:23) and that direction comes from God’s Word (Romans 10:17, Colossians 3:17, John 14:15). Just like physical exercise, if studying the Word is to do any good, it has to be a continually repeated process. If exercise is to do any good, we cannot quit, thus, we never finish reading and studying God’s Word.

     The same principle applies to our prayer life. “Pray without ceasing” said Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We know this means to have a continual attitude of, or orientation toward, prayer. If we are not praying we are always ready to pray.

     Of course, the same principle applies to the service element of the Christian life. Jesus took the form of a servant (Philippians 2:5-11). We want to be like Him. The Christian who looks to be served instead of for opportunities to serve has misunderstood what it means to be a Christian. Just as with physical exercise, if we stop serving the Lord and doing His will, we will lose the benefits and blessings associated with Christian service.

      Then there is the matter of posture. Physical posture is important; spiritual posture much more so. So my mother said, “Stand up straight!” In the spiritual sense, to stand up straight means to live according to the will of God. If we look a little further into 1 Timothy we see that Paul told him to flee from evil, pursue good things, and fight the good fight of faith (1Timothy 6:11-12). In doing these things Timothy was spiritually standing up straight. Correct spiritual posture is in essence faithfulness to God.

     The word “posture” can also describe an inner attitude portrayed outwardly. One may be seen as having an aggressive or defensive posture. The child of God is a blessed human being. Our posture ought to portray an awareness of that blessedness. Just as I have not always had good physical posture, I’ve not always expressed my relationship with God with the proper spiritual posture. I know I need to do better.

     Let’s remember to “stand up straight” physically and more importantly, spiritually.