“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.”
1 Timothy 4:8 NIV
I can tell you from experience that you can be miserable at any weight range. You can be just as sad and depressed at a heavy weight as you can with a smaller waistline. My personal journey has been full of ups and downs. I was in the best shape of my life about 5 months ago and everything was great. I hit that “goal number” on the scale and buttoned those size 6 jeans that I hadn’t worn in over a decade. I was happy, sure, but the joy soon began to fade. So, what happened? Well, I became more concerned with staying in physical shape and less concerned with what my Bible was saying to me. I spent more time daydreaming about my next big milestone instead of spending time with the Chief Cornerstone(Ephesians 2:20). This caused my anxiety and frustration to creep back in which, in turn, caused me to resort back to bad habits of eating and procrastinating my workouts. I became stuck in my head again. Does this sound familiar to you?
I spent more time daydreaming about my next big milestone instead of spending time with the Chief Cornerstone.
Weight loss companies tend to pair their products with life-altering promises and photos or videos of people doing things they haven’t done in years. Perhaps the newly changed individual is standing inside one pantleg of the jeans they used to have to squeeze in to. While losing weight certainly has its amazing benefits such as better mobility, years added to your life, and more confidence, there is something misleading about weight-loss ads. Most of them fail to mention the important of mental (or in this case, spiritual) fitness.
That pair of size 6 jeans isn’t going to give you everlasting joy like God can. So many of us pour time and resources into our physical appearance to cover up what we consider flaws. But what would your life look like if you poured that amount of energy into your relationship with God? Instead of comparing ourselves to other people, what if we compared ourselves to Jesus. What if we strived to live more like him instead of that man or woman on your Instagram feed who appears to have his/her life together?
I love how The Message Bible version puts 1 Timothy 4:8: “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.”
Physical and spiritual fitness go hand in hand. We need to be good stewards of the vessel God gave us and realize that our bodies are not our own.
1 Corinthians 6:20 tells us “You were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” While that verse is originally talking about sexual immorality, I believe it can be applied in the context of physical fitness as well.
Taking care of the body God gave you is important, regardless of what that may look like for you. Have you been eating mostly junk? Have you been moving your body? Have you gone to your regular check-ups to make sure there aren’t any hidden illnesses? More importantly, are you reading your Bible?
Here are a few holy habits you can adopt to start strengthening your spiritual muscles:
- Pray, pray, and pray some more. And I don’t mean just pray over a meal before you eat or pray when things go wrong. Jesus spoke to the Father on a regular basis. Every move we make should be guided by the Father. You can’t have a close relationship with someone you hardly speak to.
- Meditate on God’s word. When you read your Bible, don’t just read it on surface level. Let the words of a verse soak into your day like a good marinade. I have been guilty of reading my Bible just to check a box off my to-do list, or to find a verse that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. If your heart isn’t in the right place when you read God’s word, you might miss out on an important lesson from Him.
- Obedience. Following God often leads us to go against the grain of the world’s standards. Obedience isn’t always easy to practice. If you are praying and meditating on God’s word, you will understand the things God wants from you.
- Attend a church service at least once a week. If you aren’t already in church, I strongly encourage you to find one that fits you. Having a church family is so important. We should come together as a body of Christ to worship.
- Serve others. Think of a way you can serve your community or serve in your church. There is always help needed in different areas. Serving others comes in many different forms. Sometimes it is simply writing a letter of encouragement, giving someone a ride to church, donating to, or serving at your local food pantry, or maybe you have had a nudge to reach out to a long-lost friend. Showing the love of God is how others see Christ in us.
- Unplug from devices and spend quality time with God and family. This time is more about quality VS quantity.When you are with your loved ones or in prayer, are you present? Or are you thinking about all of the things you need to get done?
- Get outside in God’s creation. Again, quality over quantity. Even if the weather isn’t the best, getting outside and acknowledging the world around you for just a few minutes can give you a different sense of gratitude. Spend more time looking at the roses instead of focusing your camera on them for your next social media post.
Friend, these are only a small handful of things you can do to live closer to God. Ultimately, we should look to Jesus and how he lived and try our best to model his behavior. Jesus was humble, he had faith, he loved everyone, he forgave, he spoke to the Father, he served, and he was completely obedient to the will of God- all the way to the cross. We will never live up to the perfection of Jesus, but he should definitely be our number one role-model, not the most recent online trend-setter.
You are the best role model there is to look up to. Help us strive to be more like Jesus in our daily walk no matter what our circumstances may look like. It is not always easy to change years of habits, but with your help, all things are possible.
I pray for my friend reading this today. I pray for their peace and I pray that they will allow you to break the chains keeping them from living the life you desire for them.
Help us to always seek you in the midst of our crazy lives.
In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.
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