I was listening to a pastor’s message on the Christian radio station in my area, and heard a familiar verse that some have used in a humorous way. But as I listened to his sermon, I began to hear and understand it in a whole new light.
I Timothy 4:8 says, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”
Another translation puts it this way: "...physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things ..."
A brisk walk lowers blood pressure, your cholesterol, and reduces stress on the body. Engaging in some form of regular physical exercise will generally add years to your lifespan. Exercise helps to reduce harmful chemicals in our bodies, and provides a form of abreaction (letting off steam), builds up stamina, counteracts the biochemical effects of stress, and reduces the risk of psychological illness. As Christians, we house the Holy Spirit, and our temple needs to be strong and fit. Health and fitness are godly goals when they are balanced with common sense and right priority. In biblical times, physical exercise was not touted as necessary because people living in that time period generally walked everywhere and performed manual labor on a daily basis.
Verse 7 prefaces the previous passage with the following, “…and exercise yourself rather to godliness.”
Spiritually speaking, when we exercise godliness through prayer, Bible study, and self-control, we keep our spiritual man [woman] healthy. But what good is it if we take care of the physical body, but neglect our spiritual man and coddle our sinful nature?
The eternal value mentioned is in verse 8. Paul makes it clear that whatever we are doing for the here and now is indeed profitable – even commendable, but that which is to come, is of more value and lasting. Taking care of the spirit man, which is incorruptible and lives forever, is far more important than maintaining a corruptible body that will slowly decay in this world.
Exercise is not my god, nor do I place my fate in its hands. Jesus is my God! Sure, I still go to body-pump and cycle classes at the YMCA. I faithfully walk my two large dogs every morning for almost an hour. I make it a point to stay active, eat right, and get a good night’s sleep. But for me, keeping my spirit woman healthy and fit is a higher, God-ordained priority.
Let God speak to you about your “spiritual workout”…