Of course, most of these fitness converts will be missing in action again by Valentine’s Day, leaving the weight rooms and racquetball courts to the hard-core, year round exercise fanatics. It’s these folks who cut me off in the traffic circle every day on my way home, racing to get to the gym before all the bench presses and elliptical trainers are taken. It must have been one of these zealots who I saw in the weight room the last time I was at the gym.
We live in a very materialistic and carnal culture. The media and advertising assault us constantly with images of bodies most of us will never have. We’re inundated with countless diet and exercise programs promising quick results, yet for most of us, the battle to keep off the weight and stay healthy becomes a constant struggle, only getting more difficult as we age.
So what’s a Christian to do? Is there a Biblical way to approach exercise and fitness? Once again, as with most things in life, the key is balance. There are valid, biblical reasons to keep our bodies fit, but of course, we can go too far, even to the point of sin depending on our motives and priorities.
First, bodily exercise is not only permitted in the Bible, but recommended and endorsed for the sake of self-discipline, such as in 1 Cor 9. But God puts bodily exercise in its rightful place, secondary to spiritual discipline. In 1 Timothy 4:8, we are told that “bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” Therefore, it’s fine to keep our bodies in shape, for service in this world, but even more important to keep our souls healthy, as we’ll need them both in this world and for all eternity.
So, speaking of motivations, see if these lists help you check your reasons for working out to keep things in balance. Or if you don’t currently work out, perhaps you’ll find motivation to join the rest of the exercise rookies and prodigals back in the gym this week.
5 good reasons to exercise:
- To keep yourself healthy (as a good steward of the amazing resource God gave you to use and maintain)
- To discipline yourself, fight off sloth, and bring your bodily desires into subjection (1 Cor 9:24-27)
- To stay physically attractive to your spouse
- To be prepared for anything God calls you to do
- To set an example for your children
5 not-so-good reasons to exercise:
- To attract (other) women (1 Cor 6:13)
- To brag or lord it over others
- To worship yourself
- To compete with the world and it’s standards
- When working out gets in the way of more worthy pursuits