If you’ve seen the 1984 film The Karate Kid, the title ‘Wax On Wax Off” makes perfect sense to you. For those unfortunate, uncultured few who have never seen it, let me explain. Daniel, a bullied teen, meets Mr. Miyagi, a handyman who happens to be a martial arts expert. Miyagi agrees to teach Daniel karate, but for days simply has his protege working at seemingly mundane chores. After sanding Miyagi’s deck, painting his fence, painting his house, and waxing his car, Daniel finally grows tired of providing free labor and angrily asks when he can learn karate. Miyagi then demonstrates that the motions Daniel has been making during these chores was actually creating muscle memory to help him defend himself using karate. The small circles he had been instructed to use applying wax were actually the motion necessary to deflect an assailant’s punch.
The entirety of my understanding of karate is based on this three minute segment of a thirty year old movie, so I can’t vouch for the effectiveness of this training technique. I can confirm the importance of muscle memory when you don’t have time to think and must simply react. Muscle memory is built through practice and repetition.
There are times when I wake up with a thought or picture in my mind that seems to have been dropped there by the Holy Spirit during my sleep. Earlier this week the phrase, “precision movements in the spirit” was in my head which made me think of martial arts for some reason. While I know nothing of martial arts, I do know the Bible and I’m convinced that time spent studying God’s word is a prerequisite for precision movements in the spirit. When Paul was writing his letters to Timothy one of his instructions is found in 2 Timothy 2:16.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. [NASB]
We all have access to the Bible or “word of truth” but just as it takes hours of diligent practice to be accurate shooting a basketball, swinging a golf club, playing a piano, or typing on a keyboard, it also takes hours of diligence to accurately handle the most potent weapon known to man.
Hebrews 4:12 elaborates on this further.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. [NASB]
According to the writer of Hebrews, the solution to understanding your own thoughts and evaluating your own motives is to know His word.
In John 6:45 Jesus tells us that He expects us to demonstrate His goodness with our lives but this can only happen by first ingesting His goodness. His word is His self-revelation to us, His way of showing us His character and goodness that we are to emulate.
The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil [man] out of the evil [treasure] brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. [NASB]
Spend time filling your mind and heart with the goodness of His word of truth. Doing so is like building muscle memory for your spirit, honing your skills so you can wield this sword with precision movements of the spirit. Every time you have read the Bible or listened to good teaching about the Bible you weren’t wasting time. The spiritual muscle memory is priceless. Be so full of his word that your first natural reaction to any situation is a reaction that reveals His character.