The first and only time I went to a gym was after working a ten-hour day in a very physically demanding job, I really couldn’t see the benefits. On occasions, I would tag along on 5 mile runs with a preacher friend of mine, but it was more for his sake than mine. Those days are long gone and I’m sure that a few hours a week at a local gym would do more good than harm. As for running, I’m more afraid of what the pavement will do to my knees than anything else.
The fitness craze is big amongst those who enjoy it. I used to join the chorus of those who preferred to take Paul at his word when he told Timothy: “For bodily discipline is only of little profit” (1Tim.4:8).But as much as I would prefer to eschew exercise, the fact remains that “the godliness that is profitable for all things (1Tim.4:8), that Paul emphasises over bodily disciple, can’t be done in a body straining to stay upright.
These days the dog takes me for an hour-long walk in the early mornings. The benefit is mutual, though he enjoys it more than I do. What makes it worthwhile is that I listen to the scriptures being read through my headphones (and the dog is an excellent evangelist when walking when people are about).
I had to admit a few years ago that I had joined the generation killing itself with sugar and inactivity. I quickly found out that opting out is easier said than done. Developing new food and exercise routines gets harder after every setback and failure. We really do need to encourage each other to keep moving and to cut back on that sugar.
The whole of that verse read together gives me strength and direction:
“For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”