A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 1: Biblical Foundations: Human Body, Fitness and Care 4 glorify God, as fitness does offer a better chance of longer life expectancy. Discipline in the area of physical exercise can also help one to be disciplined in other areas of life. As Paul beat his body into submission so as to preach the gospel with integrity (1 Cor. 9:24-27), so also, we must be disciplined in the physical realm as all areas of our lives are interconnected. Exercise can become an idol, like anything in life, and it is not more valuable than the pursuit of godliness (1 Tim. 4:7-8), but it is of value in bringing about overall discipline in our lives and enabling us to better love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Physical appearance and athletic accomplishments define me. Pursuing athletic accomplishments or a sculpted physique have the temptation of becoming idols that define what you do, how you spend money, what you wear, where you spend your time, and with whom you interact. The questions of time, activity, clothing, and friends can be determined primarily on account of one’s union with Christ. When our identity is rightly centered on our union with Christ (John 1:12–13; Rom. 8:29–30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:26; Eph. 2:19–22; 1 Pet. 2:9–10), appearance and accomplishments might describe us, but they can never define us. Previous to his conversion, Paul pursued a religious and social identity by what he achieved, but he came to realize that his identity must be in Christ’s work, not his own: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8). Similarly, people can seek to have their identity in outward appearance, or their identity can be fixed inwardly on Christ which affects how they understand outward appearances. Having an outward appearance that others recognize as beautiful is not a bad thing (Gen. 29:17; 1 Sam. 25:3; Esth. 2:7), but it is also not an ultimate thing (1 Sam. 16:7; Prov. 31:30), and it can be a temptation to self-glory (2 Sam. 14:25). The Christian can pursue a fit body or wear make-up, but these must be secondary to the real beauty of a heart set on God (1 Tim. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 3:3–6). Care for outward appearance is the best way to attract and keep a godly spouse. When this way of thinking is made explicit, most Christians recognize it to be deeply flawed; nevertheless, this seems to be a common deception into which Christians fall. It seems self-evident to state that Christians desiring marriage to a godly spouse should look primarily for traits of godliness in a prospective spouse. The Bible’s descriptions of wives (Eph. 5; Col. 3:18, 1 Tim. 5:9; Tit. 2:4–5; 1 Pet. 3:1) and husbands (Eph. 5; Col. 3:19; 1 Tim. 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6; 1 Pet. 3:7) focus on character and dispositions of the heart rather than on their appearances. Husbands should be characterized by leadership, love, provision, and protection. Wives should be characterized by honorable character, a disposition to honor leadership, and a nurturing heart. Physical beauty and physical attraction among spouses are good things, but there are repeated warnings that physical beauty is not an ultimate thing, nor can it provide the foundation for a godly marriage. (As