With the beginning of a new year, it’s once again time to revive the obligatory ‘get in shape’ resolution. The problem is that we live in a world with 101 demands bearing down on us at all times and carving out an hour or two a few days a week to make it to the gym or go for a run can seem impossible, impractical, unrealistic and at worst—selfish.
Perhaps it’s time to change your perspective on exercise? I’m reminded of Paul’s encouragement to Timothy “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 4:8. Here are five ways you can view your New Year’s resolution to get in shape physically as an opportunity to get in shape spiritually as well:
1) Find a like-minded Christian workout partner. Pumping iron can be a time of iron sharpening iron. Not only does this offer accountability on those days it would be easier to stay in bed, but also you and your partner can be a source of encouragement, rebuke and wise counsel to one another. “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 ESV
2) Extend your quiet time into your workout time. Our days are anything but quiet and using your workout as a set apart time to consider things of God can be a life-giving oasis in the midst of the desert of busyness. As your body is busy burning calories, your mind and heart can be still before the LORD reflecting on His Word.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10 ESV
3) View your exercise time as an appointment to meet with God in prayer. Physical exercise can also be an exercise of prayer. This can be done alone or together with your workout partner. Consistency in exercise can also lead to consistency in your prayer life!
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 ESV
4) Take advantage of biblically sound resources that are available online—sermons, seminars, lectures, studies, etc. Grow spiritually as you grow healthy. With a smart phone and some ear buds you have access to an endless source of content-rich, gospel-centric material. While you’re challenging yourself physically, you can be challenged spiritually as well! (Don’t forget about the epikos iTunes podcast or download epikos App)“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18 ESV
5) Recognize your workout place as the mission field. Your gym, your aerobics class, your rec-league team, or wherever it is you workout—these places are filled with men and women who don’t know the hope of Jesus. Lift your eyes up from your workout plan, see those God has placed in your path and reach out. Even as those around you grow physically strong, they are weak apart from Christ!
“To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9: ESV
Happy New Year!