Physical fitness is often viewed by Christians as a sidebar; something that is important “if I can get to it.” While it is true that being in great shape should not be the first priority of believers, it is still of extreme importance. Here are some of the reasons why:
1. God says so.
The Bible is clear about the fact that we are to take care of ourselves. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 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.” In context, this verse is talking about sexual immorality. Like many things in the Bible, however, the principle can apply to many things. In this case, it also means that since our body is God’s temple, we are to take care of it in every way. We were “bought with a price,” namely the life of Christ. Our bodies belong to the Lord, not us. If you kept someone’s dog for them while they were on vacation, you wouldn’t feed it garbage and allow it to get infested with fleas. You wouldn’t throw someones beloved copy of “The Empire Strikes Back” in the blender after they had been selfless enough to lend it to you. You take care of the property of others, possibly even better than your own.You are not your own.
2. Physical training has real value in the Christian life.
You know that friend that needs help moving his ridiculously heavy entertainment center to his new house? Or that baby who seems to get heavier everyday but still wants to fly through the air or be held constantly?. I think that when Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4:8-9 that “bodily training is of some value,” he had situations like these in mind. The better shape your body is in, the more helpful you can be to to others in some of the various situations life throws at them. Being physically fit has the potential to make you that much better of a missionary for God’s Kingdom. It is another tool in your arsenal, not to mention the fact that it gives you a great conversation starter and common interest with countless people.
3. You are called to set an example.
As followers of Christ, we know that we are called to both disciple other Christians and to live in such a way that unbelievers have a hard time finding thing to accuse us of. Yet I wonder how many of us let that touch every area of our lives. A person who is in good shape physically is a person who displays dedication and discipline in his or her life. It shows people that that person cares about themselves. It is easier to trust and follow a person who appears to have themselves together. Just because someone is in good shape does not mean that they are not a disaster in some other area of life of course, but there are not many things that can give a good first impression like a person who looks like they take care of themselves.
We are not our own, we are called to serve, and we are called to set an example. All of these and more are reasons to take care of yourself physically. I of course have preferences and opinions on what the best way to go about that is, and that will be the topic of several posts to come. The important thing, however, is that you do it. Please share below if you have any other reasons or ideas!