The Theology Of Health And Fitness
Health and fitness is an area that is not specifically covered in the Bible. It does however address laziness and gluttony, both of which are mutually exclusive to health and fitness (Prov 6:9-11, 23:20-21). An examination of laziness and gluttony highlights two misfiring Biblical principles; stewardship and self-control. The issue of health and fitness is therefore less about a person’s BMI or a number on a scale and more to do with their attitude and subsequent actions.
Stewardship is how a Christian cares and uses the things God has given to them. The bible often refers to gifts or talents, however the principle can be applied to their physical body (Matt 25:14-30). The average person in the West lives for approximately 80 years so it is important that they care for and maintain their body lest they fall into disrepair or breakdown earlier than they were intended to. Having good health enhances their capacity for doing good works as prepared by God likewise having poor health can limit their impact on this world (Eph 2:10, 1 Cor 6:19-20). Self-control is what helps a person make the decision to do the right thing. It is what helps them decide what they eat and is the thing that wills them to exercise. Self-control is a gift of the Spirit which prevents laziness and over indulging (Gal 5:22-23).
The only mention of physical training is when Paul is comparing physical training and godliness where he acknowledges that physical training has some value, but godliness has value for all things (1 Tim 4:8). In addressing this issue Paul warns those who focus too heavily on physical training to not neglect their walk with God. Both are important as the body and spirit are interdependent and are unable to function without the other. A holistic approach to training needs to be taken by honouring God with both physical and spiritual training.
How is this relevant for us today? It starts with a review of our attitude and actions to the topic of health and fitness. It starts by answering the hard questions and initiating actions accordingly today.
- Am I stewarding my body well?
- Am I lazy when it comes to staying fit?
- Do I over-prioritise my physical health and well being?
- Am I more consistent with my daily exercise than my daily walk with God?
- Do I eat because I am hungry or because I’m bored?
- Is there any family history that I need to be aware of? Diabetes? Kidney Disease? Heart Disease?
Answering these questions honestly should bring about some changes in your life, regardless of whether health and fitness has been an area of neglect or over emphasis. Health and fitness is an ongoing process and it starts today. It can’t be something you ignore while you are ‘young’ because it’s the habits today that will determine tomorrow.
Let’s ask God what we need to focus on more. Is He calling, encouraging and gently prompting us to be a better steward of our bodies? Or is He prompting us to bring balance back to our life and focus more on our spiritual growth and walk with God?