“I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh…The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies…But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” — Galatians 5:16-25
Last week at FCA Leadership Camp, Coach Willie Spears (head football coach for Escambia HS in Pensacola, Florida, where Emmitt Smith and Trent Richardson are alums) talked about the contrast between feeding the spirit dog and feeding the flesh dog. Basically, whatever dog you feed will be powered up, devouring the other dog which will be weak and malnourished.
That’s an easy analogy for kids to grasp, especially those that live in Georgia where the state school has a bulldog for a mascot. It’s especially easy for athletes who are used to disciplining their bodies through a proper diet and an exercise regimen. Unfortunately, too many athletes can push themselves physically, but don’t consider working out spiritually. So what does working out spiritually look like?
Fifteen years ago through a Reproducing Disciples course, I was introduced to the hand and wheel illustrations developed by The Navigators. To be able to fully grasp God’s Word, you have to be able to grasp the Bible with all five fingers, starting from the pinky finger to the thumb.
The pinky finger represents hearing the Word at church, the ring finger is reading the Word daily, the middle finger is studying the Word, the index finger memorizing verses that speak to you, thereby hiding God’s Word in your heart; and the thumb is meditating on the Word by thinking about what you read, studied and memorized throughout the day. When all five fingers grasp God’s Word, you’re fully able to apply it, ultimately feeding the Spirit dog.
Likewise, the wheel illustration places Christ at the hub, as he must be at the center of our lives for the wheel to be aligned. Two vertical spokes – prayer and the Word – are the spokes that must be tightly trued, same as the two horizontal spokes – fellowship and witnessing – so the aligned wheel which represents the Obedient Christian in Action can move smoothly down the road of life, navigating often some treacherous terrain along the way. To have a fully functioning wheel, we must be daily feeding the Spirit dog through prayer, word, fellowship with other believers and telling people about what Jesus has done for us.
Last week at camp, we laid the foundation for all of us — staff, coaches, our families, athletes and students — to keep feeding and keep training to be our best, not only physically but spiritually as well. None of us are perfect and spiritual growth is often uneven. Mistakes are made, with hard lessons often being learned. But, like in athletics, the truly successful athletes learn from our many mistakes and losses to make the most of our talent and gifts we have inside of us to fulfill God’s plan and purpose for our lives.
Bill is on staff with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a Deacon at Eagles Landing FBC in McDonough, GA. He lives in Locust Grove with his wife Amy and their three children. You can learn more about him at his website www.achosenbullet.com.