I confess that I don’t always take care of myself as I should. I have to work hard to maintain a healthy weight, keep my blood pressure down, etc. In fact, I’m re-posting this blog from 2015 as a way to hold myself accountable to you, my readers. I don’t want to give guidance that I myself don’t follow in 2019.
As a Christian, I see this issue of exercise and bodily well-being as more a spiritual one than a physical one. Here are some reasons believers need to take care of ourselves:
- We are created in God’s image. The Bible is quite clear here – we are made in the image of the Creator. That image was marred in the fall of Adam and Eve, but not destroyed. That fact alone should give us reason to take care of ourselves.
- This body is the only one we have. This point might sound silly, but sometimes we live as if we have bodies to spare. When this one is worn out, we don’t have a replacement until the day of resurrection.
- Poor discipline is a bad witness. It’s hard to tell people to be disciplined in their Bible study, prayer life, giving, etc., when they can look at us and see we are undisciplined in exercise and eating. A lack of effort in one area of life is often indicative of problems in other areas.
- Bad health is costly. Eventually, the costs of poor health add up. Medical bills pile up. Insurance costs increase. Moreover, bad health makes us less productive at work. Others are forced then to carry some of our load.
- Our families deserve better. Frankly, it’s unloving not to take care of ourselves. Our families worry about us when we struggle to climb steps or find clothes to fit. Our love for them ought to motivate us to do better.
- Being out of shape might indicate idolatry. Those words might be difficult to hear, but they’re necessary ones. If we cannot push away from food in order to take care of our bodies, we must ask if something other than God has become our god. (And, on the other hand, it’s also possible to idolize exercise because we’ve become our own god – so balance is in order).
- Better health = more energy to do God’s work. God’s work is not easy. Those of us in ministry know that the burdens are sometimes heavy. The hours are often long. Being out of shape makes the work only that much more difficult.
- Proper care requires rest – and it’s biblical to get rest. God expects us to take time off, focus on Him, and enjoy His blessings. In fact, not taking time to rest can be self-centered (that is, we think we must be doing everything). I struggle here, but I’m learning.
- We might be called to the mission field. Many missions organizations will not consider sending someone who is out of shape. The work is often rigorous, and the stresses of cross-cultural living are only compounded by poor health.
- Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. This truth is difficult to comprehend, but God really does live within us (1 Cor. 6:19). He who created us and indwells us expects us to be wise stewards of the body He gave us.
Maybe taking care of yourself physically is one of your commitments for 2019. If so, let us know – and allow our community of readers to pray for you. As you pray for others, please pray for me as well.