I’ve been going to the gym regularly. Since I’m somewhat new to this environment, I usually like to just go in the back to the room labeled “cardio cinema”. I love this room. While I’m on the treadmill, I get to pass the time watching a movie on the big screen, which makes my workout a little more enjoyable. But I think the real reason I like this room is because it’s dark and I know no one is watching me.
One day as I was on the treadmill, this entered my mind:
The seeds you plant in the dark, secret place will produce fruit that is visible in the daylight.
I have been training hard. I’m usually so drenched with sweat it appears I’ve just stepped out of the shower. I do all this not to be noticed at the gym, but so that my work at the gym will produce fruit in my daily life—while I’m playing with my 4-year-old at the park, going on a hike with my husband, showing my son how to play basketball.
It’s always so interesting when I see that one guy at the gym who appears to use the space as a show-off zone. I never see him actually working out. He’s never on a treadmill or other piece of cardio equipment. He’s not faithfully doing his reps. No. This guy is the one putting as much weight as he possibly can onto a bar and then grunting as loudly as possible as he slowly lifts the barbell over his head. Then he grabs some dumbbells—no, not for reps—but to stand them upright and do handstands on them.
Granted, it’s very impressive. I usually just stand there in awe over what this guy can do, but then I wonder, “Why is he doing this?” What purpose does this serve? I wonder if the gym is it for him. In other words, is there a purpose to his strength outside the gym?
When it comes to planting seeds in the secret place, there’s more to it than just exercising. If we apply this concept to our faith, it helps us to understand the importance of our quiet time with God—reading our Bible, doing devotions, praying, worshiping, fasting, and being still before the Lord. This is our private time of connecting with God, learning, growing, and being built up. It is not for others to witness, but it will show fruit in your visible life.
It’s important that we don’t act like that guy at the gym in regards to our relationship with God. We don’t read our Bibles so that others will think we’re good Christians. We don’t fast so that people will think we’re super godly.
Jesus explains in Matthew 6:1-4:
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
I don’t know about you, but I would much rather receive my reward from God than from man. Instead of a pat on the back or applause, we receive connection and intimacy with the Father. And that connection is life-giving. It’s that nourishing relationship that fills us and begins producing fruit in our lives that has the ability to bless and benefit others.
So do not become discouraged in the secret place. Do not grow weary in pursuing God. Be patient and in time you will begin seeing the fruit of your investment.
For whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:7b-9)