Fit For The King

“It would be a shame to work so hard to be fit for this world, 
and be unfit for the King.” {Bonnie Pfiester}

What is your goal in physical fitness? For some it’s to lose weight, for others to become stronger, or as so eloquently put by my brother, “to get super buff.” Some people exercise because they like the way it makes them feel, and others because they’ve been told they’re at risk for different diseases if they don’t, but today I want you to know that there’s only one reason for physical fitness that’s worth any value. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple” {1 Corinthians 3:16-17}. If the goal of your fitness is not to glorify and honor God, you need a new goal.

“You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have 
followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the
followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus.
Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion.
Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please!
Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined
life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and
forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why
we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re
banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women,
especially believers.” {1 Timothy 4:6-10 (MSG)}

“No spiritual flabbiness, please!” — I love that. We are often so concerned about how our physical bodies look and about our physical flabbiness, but we couldn’t care less about our spiritual wellbeing. When is the last time you truly worked out your spiritual health? The last time you felt the pain of Godly discipline and experienced the sweetness and the rush of His presence and what you’re able to accomplish through Him?

When I really run it’s hard and sometimes I want to quit and it hurts, but when I’m done and I have a rush of energy and my mood improves and I know that I’m stronger than I was before and it was worth it. It should be the same way in your spiritual life. It’s hard to wake up early and pray when you want to stay in bed and it’s hard to discipline yourself to read your Bible when you’re tired rather than scroll through social media or watch TV and it’s easy just to fall asleep and when you try those things Satan will attack you because he doesn’t want you growing closer to God and that hurts — but when you’ve done that and you’re filled with the Holy Spirit and you have joy and you’re stronger and more confident to step out in your faith, it’s worth it.

I really like how The Message paraphrases this passage. It says that workouts are useful, and I think that’s important to understand as a Christian. If we truly believe our body is God’s temple we have to take care of it to the best of our ability. When you love someone you want them to have the best, and God, certainly more than anyone else, deserves the best we have to offer. Oswald Chambers wrote, “We owe it to God to be our best for his lambs and sheep, as well as for him.” In this particular devotional he is referring to the passage in John 21 where Jesus tells Peter that if he loves Him he will feed His sheep. If we haven’t taken care of ourselves it is more difficult to serve others as fully as God wants us to. God also cares about our bodies for the sake of us. He created us so intricately that we’re able to do amazing things with our bodies. With regular exercise you will lose weight and you will get stronger and you will reduce risks for certain diseases, and those things are good if they take the right place in your life.

“A disciplined life in God is far more so [useful], making you fit both today and forever.” Exercise is important, but God is far more important. If that’s not true in your life then exercise is an idol. If anything is more important than God then you have an idol. And our God is a jealous God who deserves your whole heart. Our lives must be disciplined in God above all else. That is done through prayer, Bible reading, fasting, and fellowship, and if you don’t have those things in your life then I urge you to start there before you start an exercise program. Being fit both today and forever certainly trumps being fit only for today.

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will 
abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things
taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical
liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from
certain foods, which God created to be received with
thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be
rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is
consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you
will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths
of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales;
rather, train yourself to be godly. 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. This is a
trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why
we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the
living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of
those who believe.” {1 Timothy 4:1-10}

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