WE LIVE IN A FITNESS-CRAZED CULTURE. Many spend thousands on Pelotons, treadmills, or weight lifting equipment. It is good to take care of our bodies. God created them and we are responsible to steward his creation. But the apostle Paul is convinced that although “bodily training” has some value, its value is temporal. On the other hand, the value of “godliness” is eternal.
“Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7–8).
Paul wants us to emphasize spiritual fitness without neglecting physical fitness. In the words of Os Guinness, we don’t want fit bodies with fat minds.
I have recently taken up golf, and it’s fun. I also take long bike rides in the Arizona sun. It is good cardio work. However, I must constantly remind myself that taking care of my physical body is not ultimate. I am an eternal creature. My current body will age and eventually die. God has put an expiration date on me known only to himself. Therefore, my emphasis must be “spiritual fitness”—”training myself in godliness.”
So, what does “training in godliness,” i.e. spiritual fitness, look like? It means habitual Bible study. It means regular mediation on biblical truth. It means meeting with the Saints for fellowship, prayer, preaching, and the Lord’s Supper. It means family devotions with my spouse and children. In short, it means the “D” word, self-discipline. If we can discipline ourselves to do physical workouts, and if we really believe the gospel, then training in godliness should be no problem.
How many of us recently set a new year’s resolution to eat more nutritiously, walk regularly, or go to the gym weekly? These are good goals, but they pale into insignificance to the need for spiritual fitness. Let’s emphasize the latter without neglecting the former, for it alone holds “promise for the life to come.”