I once took part in a 5K run called Race for Life. I have never been consistent with exercise, and in my 25 years, I have never been what one would call “fit.” This time, however, I began my training schedule with optimism, thinking maybe I had found an exercise I could enjoy. Maybe this time I could keep at it for longer than a week. That was two months ago, and the experience has been a time of both physical and spiritual training.
We are constantly reminded that a regular routine of prayer and connection with God is vital to spiritual fitness. But what about a healthy lifestyle? Exercise? Where does that fit in? Few Biblical passages directly encourage exercise, and even a few times, we are in fact directly admonished to put more care into our souls than our bodies.
However, in 1 Corinthians 9 Paul likens our “spiritual run” to a physical race, explaining how competitors endure strict training. My racing experience taught me the need to struggle, the need to clearly see the goal I am aiming for. We often give up too easily because we simply can’t see the end. We lose sight of the tape across the finish line. The hours of strict training now serve an essential purpose later. The discipline and hard work required will pay off in the final miles of our race.
With running, the hardest step is the one out your front door. Once outside, running shoes laced, bottle of water in hand, you have won half the battle. Motivation won’t come from sitting on the couch, reading Runner’s World yet again. Likewise in our spiritual life, we need discipline to move, to get started, to take that first step.
So, this week take note of your physical activities, and try to see exercise as worship, a sacrifice and a way in which to use your body as “an instrument of righteousness.” (Romans 6:13) As you toil and sweat, explore the Biblical metaphor of worship as exercise. Who knows, you may even shed a few pounds in the process. God won’t mind.
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