**Published in The Christian Online Magazine July 2012 Issue**
There are many struggling with the discipline of exercise, and if you’re like me, you want to know what the Bible says about it. Is it really a big deal to work-out? Does God actually care if I take a walk or not? Let’s examine evidences supporting the idea that God does, indeed, care about our activity levels.
#1: God places value in physical activity.
“Physical training is of some value” (1 Tim. 4:8a). The apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, thought it was important enough to mention. While God cares a great deal about our spiritual health (1 Tim. 4:8b), He also cares about our physical health. After all, we are His temples (1 Cor. 6:19), and part of being faithful stewards (Luke 16:10) is keeping our temple well maintained.
#2: Physical activity was often mentioned by the apostle Paul.
In various letters to the churches, Paul repeatedly uses “running” imagery (1 Cor. 9:24-27, Phil. 2:16, Heb. 12:11, Gal. 2:2, 5:7, 2 Tim. 4:7), suggesting athleticism was a relatable subject to his audience. Though his words were penned long before the convenience of automobile travel, drive-thru restaurants, and television entertainment, we can still gain valuable insight by understanding what was important to the people of his generation. Good principles don’t change just because times have changed.
#3: Physical activities have positive effects on both the mind and body.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest.” (Heb. 12:11) Paul is talking about the discipline in the parent-child relationship, but the concept applies well in the area of exercise. It is not always pleasant and often painful, but it produces a great reward; fewer risks for serious disease, longevity, increased energy, improved mental focus, less depression and development of self-control to name a few.
#4: Scripture admonishes laziness.
In the book of Proverbs, King Solomon challenges us, “How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?” (Prov. 6:9) see also Prov. 13:4, 21:25 and 19:15 There is strong evidence in the Bible to support the need to stay active and avoid laziness.
So what’s stopping us from obeying?
#1: We have no motivation.
There are physical reasons why some cannot exercise, but the majority of us have the capability to, at bare minimum, walk every now and then. For some it’s difficult to get motivated. Several years ago I worked in a gym as a certified personal trainer, and even then I needed to hire my own trainer to motivate my diligence. I managed to work much harder when held accountable then I did on my own. (I wasn’t about to make myself suffer, but my trainer had no problem with it.) It may be useful to enroll the help of an accountability partner who will not entertain shallow excuses.
#2: We don’t know what to do.
We all have unique circumstances, but that shouldn’t hold us back from being active. I’m a mother to a toddler and training at the gym is not practical for me at this point in my life. But I can still garden, play soccer, catch or do any number of other physical activities with my daughter. Am I going to look like a body builder? No, I won’t. But God hasn’t called me, or the majority of us, to be body builders. He simply assures us we can do all things with his strength (Phil. 4:13). We need to get creative in our thinking, instead of boxing exercise into gym memberships, work-out videos, and expensive equipment. Get out of the box and ask God to show you ways you can increase your movement throughout the day.
There is always hope (Lam. 3:24)! Continue to run the race set before you and know God accepts you right where you’re at (Rom. 15:7). He will never ask of you more than you can bear (1 Cor. 10:13, Heb. 4:5-6), so trust His word (Prov. 3:5) and acknowledge his perfect plan for your spiritual and physical health, embracing the abundant life he created you for (John 10:10).
© Rebecca Aarup