I’ve been pretty lazy about hitting the gym. I’m rolling over at 0530, not rolling out. Those 2019 New Year’s resolutions to work out more and lose some weight? Long abandoned and forgotten. I’ll renew them for 2020 in the weeks ahead and abandon and forget them again, I suppose. Does the Bible address gym and work-out issues?
Paul instructs Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7-10, “Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive.” Why bother with bodily training? It does have value. There is worthiness in losing some weight, getting your heartbeat up, breaking a sweat. There is joy in playing sports, achieving goals, competing and recreating with others. It’s not a lost cause altogether. It’s part of caring for your body and being overall healthy. Don’t give up in a personal regimen of regular, physical exercise.
But is that all there is? Is there anything more? Paul recognized the value of bodily training, but also emphasized spiritual training. “Train yourself to be godly,” he writes, “for physical training is of some value but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” The word for train involves agonizing, toiling, striving, disciplining, for something more. Work hard at this. Think of how much effort an athlete puts into a workout; that is important, but look at it from a spiritual angle. How much effort is being made to grow spiritually? Train yourself to be godly. That is where a lot of work needs to happen.
What is godliness? I know what the finished product of an athlete should look like: swimming with proper form, running the race in a good time, catching the ball, lifting the weights, making the play. What does achieved godliness look like, to be fully formed at mature in godliness? It involves prayer and Bible reading, fasting and worshipping with others at church. It means worshipping the Lord in all things, such as speech, conduct, attitude. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” and he says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” in Colossians 3:23. How much effort am I putting into this? How much effort are you putting into this?
Training in godliness holds promise for this life and the one to come. Jesus said the Christian is to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, not chase after the cares of this world. As Christians, our citizenship is heaven; that is our home and where we will spend eternity with the Lord. Promises for the life to come weigh heavier than what I can get from this world.
So I’ll make some effort to hit the gym, swim some laps, work to keep my body in shape (but not at 0530)! It’s not that bad, but I could take off some turkey-day pounds, and as I get older, I need to keep up some kind of health. Far better is my spiritual training, though. There is where progress must be made. I can claim that promise.