Today’s post is the conclusion of yesterday’s post about the discipline of exercise:
Yes, exercise is a great way to strengthen yourself physically and mentally, but not just for strength’s sake. The Bible tells us that “It is not by strength that one prevails” (1 Sam. 2:9b) but that “The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11). We can use our exercised and strengthened body physically, in order to be strengthened by God spiritually. Our goal in exercising should not be about punishment but discipline…The discipline it takes to exercise the body, persisting through the trials of hot weather, weak or sore muscles, and even the early alarm clock settings remind us of the discipline it takes to exercise our faith. We may not always feel like “doing the work” of faith or fitness, but both are necessary for movement- in our daily lives and in our spiritual ones as well. In our physical life we need physical strength which will equip us to do the “work” God calls us to do, whether it is taking care of a household, staying active with your children, run a business, protect our city, or sit on the floor to teach young children in Sunday school. In Hebrews 13 we are reminded that “the God of peace…will equip you with every good thing for doing His will.” If God is asking you to be strong physically in order to serve Him, He will equip you physically to do so. Consider Solomon, who was tasked with the building of the Temple of the Lord– a feat physical AND spiritual strength to be sure. This would require great discipline on his part.. “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work. (1 Chron. 28)” God would equip him to do this physical and spiritual task, but he would have to be disciplined in body, mind and spirit. His thoughts and motivations would have to stay focused on the task the Lord had given him. It would not be about Solomon’s glory, his strength or skill, but about God’s will for him.
The same is true for us. When we keep the focus of our exercise routine on building our bodies as His temple (NOT ours), we will be given everything we need to do so. He will make us strong so that we can do the work! As we increase our strength and endurance, improve our posture and flexibility, we can pray that God will show us how to strengthen our faith so that we might endure, stand upright, and move with His will for our lives. Romans 12, Paul urges us to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12). Exercise is not a punishment, but a way of preparing ourselves to worship God WITH our bodies, instead of worshipping our bodies.
Sure, sometimes it will be difficult, inconvenient, or maybe unpleasant, but exercise should never feel like a punishment. So when the alarm goes off too early, the muscles are sore, the air is thick with heat, remember…”No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. (Hebrews 12)” for “after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5)”