So I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now. There are some professions that you can clearly see the crossover between living out faith in Christ and pursuing a career. Social work, counselor, school teachers—all of these have very clear objectives that truly better society in a spiritual sense. But I am passionate about fitness. I was really struggling to figure out how what I felt called to do was supposed to align with the goals that are clearly defined in the Bible. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27 ESV). Fitness doesn’t feed the orphan, or free the slave. So what spiritual value is there in the care of our own bodies? I decided to do a little Bible digging to see if my chosen career path was completely unfounded in what is most important to me. I wanted to share my research with you all so you can look at your health and fitness goals from a new perspective.
First of all, the Bible makes it very clear that the body is not the most important thing. There are several verses that bring up how it is a temporary, disposable thing. Matthew 10:28 says that we should not live in fear of people who can kill our bodies. 1 Timothy 4:8 straight up says “Bodily discipline is only of little value.” So continually denying yourself a scoop of ice cream, or a rest day from the gym when you really need it in pursuit of a more defined 6 pack or a better butt is not going to get you any bigger of a house in Heaven. And most of the verses about protecting and caring for your physical bodies are in reference to sexual promiscuity. Take a look at the context of 1 Corinthians 6:19 (the verse about your body being a temple) and you’ll stop using it as an argument for why you shouldn’t get tattoos. God knew us before our physical bodies were even created. So why do we need them? Why should we care? If our eternal destination is not bound by our fleshy bodies, why should we care about what happens to them?
You could see how this left me in a pickle considering the amount of money, time, and effort I have invested in my pursuit of knowledge in the area of physical wellness. But I kept digging.
In Psalms 139:13 it says that God carefully knit us together in our mother’s womb. God took special time and care to create our bodies. They were important enough to Him to create so they must be of at least some importance. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 gives us a clear picture of needing to be good stewards of what we have been given. So if our bodies were important enough to God to create, we should probably take care of them.
If any of you have ever done athletics in a Christian setting, you will recognize 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” I have heard countless devotions on this verse, but in this study I did on my own, I saw it with fresh eyes. I believe that our efforts to have healthy bodies can be seen as a symbol of the discipline that we have in our spiritual development. You do not get stronger, faster, or lose weight over night. It takes weeks, months, even years of discipline and practice. On the same note, you don’t wake up a perfect Christian the moment you hand your life over to Christ. We are messy and broken and we are to be continually making efforts to be more and more like Christ. I think our efforts in physical health are analogous of our efforts in getting closer and closer to Christ-likeness.
A more practical application to how we can use physical fitness to further our spiritual journey is in the timing of our Bible reading. I am a very fidgety person that needs to go go go all the time. It’s a character flaw. But this often leaves me distracted when trying to read my Bible. I have found recently that reading after I have exercised allows me to really tune everything else out and focus in on the message of the text.
In closing, I am extraordinarily happy that I chose fitness as a profession. I love every minute. I love helping people feel better about themselves and I hope that God will, in some way, use this passion of mine to do something great for His kingdom.
If you have any questions about fitness or anything else discussed in this post, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can subscribe to my posts at the link below or stay updated on Facebook or Instagram.