Keeping in Step with God’s Purposes

by Patti Richter

Our instructor could leap and spin. And the rest of us would try to keep up with her.

I was somewhat petrified as I signed up for an new exercise class. Not scared stiff—just stiff. A young woman named Raina taught cardio-dance-exercise at a local gym, and her routines incorporated styles from Jazz to Jackson (Michael, that is).

My faithful attendance in Raina’s class for more than a decade made me stronger and more flexible. But then I moved out-of-town, and she was no longer in front of me. I hoped to find someone else who would encourage me to keep moving since I was at risk of gradually becoming stiff again.

But there’s another kind of stiffness to be on guard against. We can see a troubling pattern recorded in the history of several kings of Judah who were pleasing to God only while they had a certain temple priest to instruct them. However, when the priest died, each of these kings started to make unwise and sometimes evil choices. It appears they ruled without accountability, as if they believed themselves either too strong or too wise to fail.

Joash was one of those kings. He “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years of Jehoiada the priest” (2 Chronicles 24:2 NIV). But after Joash began listening to those who were not God-fearing, he abandoned both the temple and the worship of God. The Lord sent someone to warn him of the consequences, but the king was too stiff-necked to repent. After a long, 40-year reign, Joash was murdered by his own officials, and he was not even buried in the tombs of the kings (24:17-25).

Spiritual stiffness may not set in overnight, but it can set in.

Regarding the waywardness of God’s people, the apostle Paul explained, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us…. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12 NIV).

Speaking of the body of Christ, Paul said, “each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV), and God supplies members with a variety of gifts and abilities (v. 28).  Concerning those who lead, Paul wrote, “An overseer is entrusted with God’s work…. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:7, 9 NIV).

While we may view church involvement as a dutiful habit, like going to the gym, maybe this isn’t a bad thing. A healthy “body” requires active members who show up. And we benefit from the example of those leaders who, like Paul, show us how to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).

Few of us can stay spiritually fit on our own. The apostle John wrote, “if we walk in the light, as [God] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7 NIV).

Christian fellowship necessitates commitment to both serving and submitting ourselves to others. And our participation simultaneously strengthens our soul.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV

This article brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at with more than four hundred published articles.

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: How have you been strengthened by your involvement with other Christians?

One thought on “Keeping in Step with God’s Purposes

  1. Thanks for this message, Patti. Our church is going through a transition, searching for a new pastor. We all need to encourage one another and stay faithful. Thanks, Fran


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