Physical Exercise and Godliness

Is physical exercise a good thing?

Over some coffee at Connecticut Muffin last week, some pastor friends and I discussed the subject of physical exercise. Is it good? Is it important? We can answer this question by giving attention to 1 Timothy 4:7-8, which says:

Exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

In these words, I discover that there are advantages to physical exercise. Paul says that bodily exercises profits; it is beneficial. However, he also says that it profits “a little” or “less than.” But less than what? Spiritual exercise.

  • Physical exercise yields some advantages; but spiritual exercise yields many advantages.
  • Physical exercise yields minor advantages; but spiritual exercise yields major advantages.
  • Physical exercise yields temporary advantages; but spiritual exercise yields eternal advantages.

Should a Christian abandon physical exercise?

Does this mean that a Christian should abandon physical exercise? No. (Rather than abandon physical exercise, a Christian should abandon something else: engaging in the godless and frivolous chatter mentioned in 1 Timothy 4:7. What does this sound like? It sounds like a lot of wasted time surfing the internet, perusing YouTube and chatting on social media – but I diverge.)

Paul perhaps is hinting at a connection between physical and spiritual exercise.

Is there a connection between physical and spiritual exercise?

It means that a Christian should practice some physical exercise, but much more spiritual exercise. In fact, Paul perhaps is hinting at a connection between physical and spiritual exercise. Perhaps he is pointing out that frivolous talk (1 Tim. 4:7) does nothing to aid the development of godly character in your life. But physical exercise actually supports the development of godly character “a little.”

We can recognize that discipline of physical exercise teaches important lessons and builds personal character and discipline necessary for true godly character. After all, Paul said this in 1 Corinthians 9:27:

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

The born-again Christian should avoid a physical exercise routine that consumes his life schedule and overshadows other more important priorities. Physical fitness and elaborate exercise routines have become gods in our generation. Nevertheless, we should still find ways to incorporate a little bit of appropriate exercise into the cycle of life because this teaches you to control your body, focuses your attention and encourages a longer life. These minor benefits provide valuable help in your pursuit of godly character, godly disciplines and godly goals. Indeed, physical exercise will help you a little in achieving what matters most – cultivating a personal, daily, obedient relationship with God.

Physical exercise will help you a little in achieving what matters most – cultivating a personal, daily, obedient relationship with God.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *