Why Be Fit?
A few months back I did a “March madness” pull-up challenge where I was to complete 3000 dead-hang pull-ups within the month…I did it. It is not uncommon for me to set a high, but achievable goal or choose to place myself within a demand that is physically challenging. I’ve had people ask me why? Which raises the questions, why push yourself? Why stay fit? I will give you three points as to answer these questions. First I will address a spiritual perspective, next a health perspective, and last a reflection of character.
Scripture says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20.
Unfortunately, I have met many Christians who either did not see staying fit, working out, or being active as something God would want us to do or as a necessity as a Christian; as well, as those who witnessed others being extremely active as “wasting their time.” None of these are a right perspective from a biblical point of view. Some may even think because they are “thin” or “have a good body” that it is not necessary for them to be fit. I purpose to you it has nothing to do with your body. Why? Because it is not your body, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. How can we boast in something that is not our own? The verse says, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify GOD in your body.”
So why then should we be concerned with staying fit as Christians? Well, first off we need to be prepared for whatever God may bring our way. What if you and your family were called to the mission field next week in a place that required much hardship and discipline in many aspects? Would you be prepared physically? Secondly, it is a good witness. If we are not to be of this world we should maintain an attitude of discipline in all things. Allow me to share from Daniel chapter one. In verses 10-16 it says: “And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king's food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. ...” This shows that Daniel and his men were physically willing to be tested. This test required them to be “fit”. It showed men of God were prepared physically and that they were dedicated to glorifying God in their body.
In 1st Corinthians 9:24-27 Paul compares the Christian life to a runner. He states: “every athlete exercises self control in all things.” He is not simply using athletes as an example, but showing the importance of self discipline in all things!
Secondly, we should be concerned with staying fit as it affects our health dramatically. Let’s look back at the first passage I quoted, it said “so glorify God in your body.” Remember how we are the temple of the Holy Spirit? If we owned a temple, how would we want people to treat it? Just trash it? Or uphold it to the best of their ability? If you consistently workout, you are forced to eat properly and healthy. Otherwise it is counter-productive. If we are to be set apart from the world, being healthy shows we are not lazy and we CARE about representing Christ!
Thirdly, staying fit reflects our Character. Let us consider the U.S. Navy SEALS. These are some of the most disciplined people in the world. Imagine the discipline they must maintain both physically and mentally every day! Now if we were to develop a mentality of everyday being disciplined, this would be a demonstration of discipline like none other. Self-control is one of the highest traits and character qualities one can have. Take Jesus Christ for example. As a man, he was tempted in any and every way, but as a man, he resisted temptation through self-control. Are we dedicated to being a follower of Christ and having self-control? Paul says: “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.” We are to set the highest standard, in all things; which means as Christians we must discipline our body to be fit so as to honor Christ. 1st Timothy 4:8 states, “For physical training is of some value, but Godliness has value in all things.” This verse is not throwing out physical training and saying only be concerned with spiritual matters, but it is putting PT right next to Godliness. It does not say PT has NO value, it says it has SOME value. However, Godliness is of the greater priority.
I would end with stating there needs to be a balance. We must not get caught up in one extreme or the other. We must have a balance and remember God cares about us taking care of our body, but more importantly cares about the example and standards we are setting. Are we more concerned with being lazy because it’s easy and enjoyable? Or with being disciplined, providing our self with a level of fitness that will give us more energy to carry out our spiritual duties before God and demonstrating we have a mentality that God is our strength and we can conquer all things through Him?