First take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Luke 6:42).
Planks seem like easy exercises…until you have to do it.
My wife and I recently started a kickboxing exercise program that includes several timed planking routines, a few of which are front planks, side planks, plank jacks, push-up planks, planks with arm or leg extensions, and side planks with thigh raises. Being an avid gym rat, these “easy exercises” didn’t impress me. I was used to serious weightlifting, so what’s the big deal, right?
When it was my turn, I assumed the position on the floor, nonchalantly waiting for the timer to start. The first thirty seconds were easy. At the one-minute mark, my muscles started tightening. Thirty seconds later, my arms, shoulders, upper back, and legs started shaking. I was determined to beat the clock; however, when I started cramping up, I knew I was in trouble. All in less than two minutes!
How could something that seemed so easy, so core, be so ridiculously hard to do?
Planks in Our Eyes
While you prepare your answer, here’s a different planking question. Why is it so hard to recognize the planks in my own eye, yet so easy to point out the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eyes?
In asking this question, Jesus instructs us to work on our own faults before trying to help other people with their issues. If you’re like me, performing spiritual healthcare—working on problem areas, weak spots, sinful habits, uncontrolled desires—will keep us busy for the rest of our lives. We won’t have time to worry about other people’s shortcomings. Sure, we may notice their specks and offer encouraging spiritual insights, but our focus should remain on our own planks.
What are some particularly difficult spiritual planking routines? I’m so glad you asked! The following five planking routines will strengthen your spiritual core while enhancing your effectiveness in witnessing to the world.
The Forgiveness Plank
“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). From a kneeling position, bow your head with both arms raised. Hold that position while asking God to forgive your pride. Relieve your spiritual tension by releasing all arrogance, anger, judgmentalism, and selfish perspectives to God. Ask Him to soften you with His wisdom, compassion, mercy, and grace. Then stand upright and interact with people as God sees them. Perform daily reps.
The Purity Plank
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). In a kneeling position, with both hands clasped in front, bow your head and hold that stance while asking God to purify your words, thoughts, fantasies, meditations, and dreams. Build your spiritual muscles by rejecting all sources of temptation and presenting all your desires for God’s approval. If you fall midway, apply 1 John 1:9, then resume the activity. Perform daily reps.
The Truth Plank
“Speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). This routine requires repetitive resistance strengthening. Resist the urge to tell the truth harshly; resist the false pretenses of flattery. Resist the temptation to gossip, slander, or intentionally injure with your words. From an upright stance, speak only what you know to be true, with loving concern for all parties involved. Perform daily reps.
The Love Plank
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). From a standing position, reach out and become the hands and feet of Jesus. Extend your hands to serve others. Bend forward at the waist, stretching your hands downward to help lift the fallen. Place your hands over your mouth to prevent unkind or false words. Take this exercise to a tougher level by loving the unloving. Perform daily reps.
The Watch-and-Pray Plank
“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes” (Luke 12:37). Brace your inner core to avoid falling into temptation (Matthew 26:41). Maintain a prayerful mindset at all times, in all places. Remain on high alert for the Lord’s imminent return. Perform daily reps.
Happy planking and stay blessed!