By Erica, Contributing Writer
Answer and consider this question: Was Jesus Christ lazy?
No way! As Christians we rightly look up to Jesus and wish to be more like Him in His manner and His compassion. But do you ever want to be like Him in the physical aspect? We know Jesus walked almost every place He went and one particular time He walked miles out of His way to speak to the Samaritan woman at the well. He got there tired, but He made it! He had strength, He had stamina, He was fit.
Do you have a love-hate relationship with exercise? I know I do! I’m a slender person naturally with a high metabolism. Appearances can be deceiving, just because I may be slim does not mean I am fit. In starting a light exercise program recently I have found that I am quite the opposite. Yes, I move all day long, but during my exercise time I am focusing on strengthening muscles that seem to be rusty. My legs have been wobbly, muscles sore, which has motivated me to be taking better care to maintain the strength of my body.
I Timothy 4:8 says, “For bodily exercise profiteth little…” That’s encouraging isn’t it!? Why would I strain these muscles of mine and ache each step I take if it does not mean much to God? Uh…naturally I wouldn’t! There has to be a purpose for a regular exercise routine, right? I believe there is.
At the point of salvation, when a person calls upon the name of the Lord and they see their sin the way God sees it, and accepts Christ as the only means of having eternal life, then at that point the Holy Spirit of God comes into them. They now become a new creation! At that moment the body that once was in darkness now holds the Holy Spirit inside and the body is now referred to as the temple of God. It’s the place in which the Holy Spirit lives within you until you die or until Christ returns.
Our body is more than a machine doing the work of keeping us alive, it is now the holding place of God the Holy Spirit. He goes with us everywhere and experiences life with us from now on.
The greatest benefit of bodily exercise is to keep our body in shape to serve God for a lifetime.
Bodily exercise also helps us consciously make right choices for the temple of God so we can preserve our body for the service of God. Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Presenting our bodies to God should be something we are proud to do. While we will always have imperfections and things that are not always right with our body, we should do our best to stay active and in shape. What kind of living sacrifice are we if we have no energy and we can’t get up and minister to the people God wants us to help?
The body has natural tendencies to want to be lazy, and we fight our flesh every day to make good choices for our body. Regular exercise helps put your fleshly desires into their place and puts your body under subjection and in control. You can teach your body the disciplines of weight lifting or running by being consistent and challenging yourself to fight against that natural desire to disregard your body’s desire to lead you. You should be leading it to be accustomed to fitness and strength.
For those people who like to exercise and find it a temptation to allow exercise to consume your life, let’s look at the rest of 1 Timothy 4:8, “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Exercise has the profit of helping our body serve the Lord for a lifetime, but that is not the only exercise we should be doing. We should be exercising godliness.
Exercising godliness contains in it promises not only in today’s life, but in eternity. Godliness and our exercise of service to the Lord holds eternal rewards greater than crossing a finish line or obtaining a black belt in karate. So, when you are faced with the choice between daily exercise and daily Bible reading and prayer time. I believe, according to this verse, we should exercise our godliness first. Then, if there is time left in our day, then bodily exercise is appropriate.
Some people allow working out to consume them, when all God really wants is for your heart to be in shape with Him. He wants you to be able to call upon Him in prayer at any time and have fellowship with Him. He wants your spirit in tune with your walk with Him, so that when He sends you to minister to people, that you can sense His leading and you will follow.
It is not wrong to exercise your body, as long as you are using it as a means to serve Him for a lifetime. So, how are you doing? Are you exercising godliness before bodily exercise? Do you need to find a regular exercise routine to help you have the stamina to serve?
Jesus Christ is our greatest example of both bodily exercise and godliness, may we have the self-denial to follow in His footsteps! Do you struggle with exercising?