Today’s question: Why should a Christian take care of his body? Doesn’t 1 Timothy 4:8 say, “Bodily exercise profiteth little”?
Here, as always in the Bible (and with any other text, I might add), context is important. The verse continues by saying, “. . . but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (KJV).
Paul’s point is not that there is no value in caring for the body, but rather that exercise is relatively unimportant compared to godliness, because the benefits of godliness extend beyond this life. A number of modern versions (ESV, HCSB, NET, NIV) convey the meaning of Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 4:8 with translations like “Bodily training is of some value” (ESV; emphasis mine).
It is true that a godly attitude will lead us to elevate spiritual concerns above physical concerns, but a godly attitude will also lead us to be good stewards of our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19). God is displeased when we make physical fitness an idol, but He is very pleased when we tend to our physical fitness while keeping it in the proper perspective.
Why should a Christian take care of his body? There are a number of reasons. First, a man honors God by being a good steward of his body. Second, a man may promote his own spiritual discipline by being physically disciplined. Third, a man who tends to his fitness doesn’t unnecessarily offend people by sending the message that this life is insignificant.
If we had to pick spiritual fitness or physical fitness, we would be wise to pick spiritual fitness. Fortunately, the two are not mutually exclusive.
So if you are one of the few men reading this blog who has six-pack abs, you might be OK.
— Beau Stanley
(EDITOR’S NOTE—Photo: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Thinkstock)