A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 1: Biblical Foundations: Human Body, Fitness and Care 11 that can enhance our ability to minister to others: sustained vigor, improved focus, emotional stability, and ability to travel to others. God has designed our bodies for physical activity, proper nutrition, and appropriate rest–all of these are his good gifts. While in the short term, a Christian might compromise any one of these, to sustain long-term ministry, the Christian must have each of them in balance. We glorify God by pursuing each of these habits in thankfulness to him and also by willingly sacrificing each of them at times for reasons of gospel risk (2 Cor. 11:23–31; 12:15). The believer might go without sleep for a night to minister to a friend in need or sacrifice bodily health taking the gospel to remote areas. Character formation. Physical exercise can also benefit our growth in character. A person’s character is the sum of his or her disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions. It is who we truly are, and we are called as Christians to develop Christ-like character (Rom. 8:28-29; 1 John 2:6). Everything in our lives is interconnected when it comes to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual disciplines. We are holistic beings with different facets to our being. Thus, overcoming laziness in exercise can help us overcome laziness in other areas of our lives. Enjoying the benefits of bodily activity can help us lean into, as opposed to draw away from, activity and God-centered ambition in life. Exercise can teach us to press through resistance in any difficulty and not simply give in and quit when it becomes hard. This is good training for life. We were promised tribulation in this life (John 16:33; Rom. 5:3-4; Jas. 1:2-4) and we are called to endure in the race set before us (1 Cor. 9:24-27; Heb. 12:1-3). Exercise can help to develop a mindset and promote habits of perseverance where we will actually gravitate toward dealing with the hard things of life in a healthy way. Physical exertion, thus, can be a means of growing in character and, by God’s grace, following Jesus more effectively. Pleasure. All people seek pleasure, and we were made by God to find our ultimate satisfaction in him (Ps. 16:11). This is sensible, since it is only in God, we can have infinite and eternal pleasure. We are to enjoy God above all things, lest we be guilty of idolatry (Ps. 115:1-8) and we are to enjoy God in all things (Ps. 43:4) since all of his good gifts ultimately point back to him, including exercise. A sedentary life is in actuality a more stressed life, physically, mentally, and emotionally. The remainder of this textbook will speak more to the scientific facts regarding physical fitness, but it cannot be denied that God designed our bodies to feel more pleasure as we use them in assertive ways. If you have not put physical fitness on your priority list, there is no doubt that pleasure may not be the first thing you feel as you get started. However, there truly is pleasure to be experienced, and it seems by divine design. God put chemicals into our bodies, like endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, and these chemicals are brought up to raised levels in our bodies during intensive sessions of aerobic workouts. And these bodily chemicals produce feelings of pleasure that are undeniable. God made us to move, and made our movement to