Years ago, now on an almost forgotten show, “The Merv Griffin Show,” a bodybuilder was the day’s guest. During the interview, Merv asked, “Why do you develop those particular muscles?” The bodybuilder stepped forward and flexed a series of well-defined muscles from his chest to his calves. The audience applauded. “So, what do you use all those muscles for?” Merv asked. Again, the bodybuilder flexed, and his biceps and triceps swelled to impressive proportions. “But what do you USE those muscles for?” Merv persisted. The bodybuilder was bewildered. He didn’t have an answer other than to display his well-developed frame.

  When I thought about that episode, it reminded me too much of ourselves and our “spiritual exercises”–Bible study, prayer, reading, listening to Christian music and podcasts—these things are also for a purpose. They’re meant to strengthen our ability to build God’s kingdom, not simply to improve our pose before an admiring audience.

Or, to illustrate it in another way, the shark is one of the most popular aquarium fish. If you catch a small shark and confine it to a small tank, it will stay proportionate to the aquarium for its entire life. Sharks can be six inches long but very old. However, if you turn them loose in the ocean, they grow to their standard length of eight feet. That also happens to some Christians. I’ve seen some of the cutest little six-inch Christians who swim around in a little puddle. But God has called us to mature growth in a much larger arena–into the whole creation—it’s only when we prepare for that mission that we become the servant God has called us to be.

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