Not as much as He cares about your soul. He cares about eternity more than He cares about time. Physical training is not as important as spiritual training. Running is not as important as reading the Word. Working out is not as important as praying.
But it is important. The Bible says so: “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.” 1 Timothy 4:8 (NIV)
The Bible says that Jesus didn’t just grow spiritually. He grew, “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52 (NIV). He grew wise. He grew physically. He grew spiritually. He grew socially, or relationally. He grew in a balanced way. Do you want to be like Jesus? Grow in wisdom. Grow spiritually. Grow socially and relationally. And, grow in terms of fitness.
John prayed that his friend would enjoy good health (3 John 1.2) He is clearly not talking about spiritual health because in the next line he says, “even as your soul is getting along well.”
Physical health is of medium importance. It is not as important as your soul, but it still matters.
Churches tend to concern themselves exclusively with spiritual health. We create Christians who think godliness has to do with how often you read your Bible and nothing to do with how often you run.
The Bible says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV). What does it mean to honor God with your body? It means to be sexually pure. It means to not gossip with your tongue. It means to not get drunk with wine. It means to not smoke. And, it means to stay fit.
When was the last time you heard a sermon on gluttony? When was the last time you heard one of these verses mentioned in a Bible study?
- Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. Philippians 3:19 (NIV)
- Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. Proverbs 23:20-21 (NIV)
- The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father. Proverbs 28:7 (ESV)
Being fit is not the only thing. It is not the most important thing. It is a lesser thing. And, it is always difficult to pay enough attention to second and third priorities. We can get ramped up about getting first things first. Third or fourth priorities still need to be done. Don’t ignore them altogether.
We can make two mistakes with reference to health—we can make it centrally important and make fitness our God. Or, we can ignore it altogether. For twenty years, I ignored it all together. Fifty pounds later, it is time to repent. That is the topic of the next chapter.