Lifting/benching/running? Aerobics? Spinning?…. let’s take it one step at a time!
Moderation is perhaps the governing concept for a Christian view of bodybuilding/weightlifting. First Timothy 4:8 teaches, “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” (emphasis added). Physical fitness is important, and as this verse states, it does have some value. We are physical and spiritual beings, and the condition of the physical body undeniably can impact the spirituality of a person. Surely part of “glorifying God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20) is keeping it in reasonably good physical condition. Bodybuilding can definitely be a part of a Christian’s physical fitness program.
At the same time, as with many things in this life, bodybuilding, if taken to the extreme, can become an idol. Eventually, a point is reached where there is no true value in adding more muscle. Bodybuilding/weightlifting can become an addiction and/or obsession. While this is much more often an issue with men, it can be an issue for women as well. Striving for bigger and stronger muscles, taken to the extreme, is nothing but vanity (1 Samuel 16:7; Ecclesiastes 1:2; 1 Peter 3:4). Once we allow our physical appearance to become more important than our relationship with God, it has become an idol (1 John 5:21).
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The key question is does bodybuilding/weightlifting glorify God? If it is done to increase fitness, strength, and tone, and thereby health, yes, it can be done for God’s glory. If it is done out of vanity and pride, or from an unhealthy obsession with getting bigger and stronger, no, it does not glorify God. How should a Christian view bodybuilding? “‘Everything is permissible for me’—but not everything is beneficial. “‘Everything is permissible for me’—but I will not be mastered by anything. . . . ‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is constructive” (1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23).
With this perspective in mind, the Bible affirms that spiritual health and fitness is even better than physical fitness: “… training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Being healthy and fit is beneficial for this life.
vanity (1 Samuel 16:7; Proverbs 31:30; 1 Peter 3:3-4). The purpose of being healthy and fit is to serve God better, not so others will notice and admire us.
It helps us to stay balanced by remembering, “our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). With this perspective in mind, the Bible affirms that spiritual health and fitness is even better than physical fitness: “…training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Being healthy and fit is beneficial for this life. But this life is not all there is. There is an eternity to keep in view and the rewards are greater and more enduring.
In the end, it shouldn’t be an either/or situation when it comes to physical health versus spiritual health. It is a both/and, with spiritual health and godliness being the priority. Physical life will end but spiritual life is eternal. Keep in mind that the glorified body we receive for heaven has nothing to do with whether we are fit now or not.
The balance is in focusing on looking after your body for the sake of your soul. Although I tried many different things related to health and fitness, now it all boils down to six words to live by: Move more, eat right, keep balanced.
Being healthy is something we should never take for granted. God has given us many gifts, one of which is good health. Having the right mindset about healing and wholeness is one of our responsibilities as Christians. It isn’t God’s will for us to be sick; realizing this puts us in a position to exercise our authority over sickness and disease.
Too many people simply accept illness and poor health as their lot in life because they don’t know about how the finished works of Jesus include health and healing. However, living under grace means we have a major influence over what goes on in our bodies and minds, regardless of what the doctors may tell us. Jesus healed many people during His earthly ministry and He gave us the same authority over sickness. “Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you” (Luke 10:19, AMPC). God wants us healed and whole, not just physically but also emotionally.
God plainly tells us that He wants perfect health for us. “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 1:2). The enemy uses sickness to keep us from realizing our true potential. He tries to instill fear in us and suggests that maybe God’s promises concerning healing don’t apply to us. They do, and we can place our full trust and confidence in them.
Jesus went to the cross and shed His blood so that we could have healing available to us when we need it. Because of what He did, there’s no reason to stay sick. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). God already made provisions for our healing more than two thousand years ago; when the doctor gives us a bad diagnosis, meditating on this promise shifts our mindset and opens us up to receive this healing for ourselves.
Words have immense power. According to God’s spiritual laws, we will have what we say; therefore, we must be mindful of what we speak. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21). When bad news plants the seeds of doubt and fear in our minds, we fight those thoughts by opening our mouths and verbally declaring the Word of God. It’s impossible for negative thoughts to hang around when we concentrate instead on confessing the Word.
All types of healing on the physical level begin at the spiritual level. We exercise godly wisdom when we accept this by faith and put it into practice. Our words bring what is in the spiritual realm into the natural realm. Agreeing with what God says always puts us in a win-win situation. “There are those who speak rashly, like the piercing of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18, AMPC).We don’t have to tolerate sickness or disease. As free moral agents, we can decide for ourselves what type of healing we want; our faith flips the switch. Ill health has no chance against us when we accept God’s will in this area.