Are there any tips in the bible as to what the best ways to lose weight and to get in shape are? In terms of the most effective method? Unfortunately, no. But the Bible definitely warns us of how not to go about on our diet. So here are a few principles to bear in mind so that you can get in shape the righteous way, not the sinful way.
Your goal of getting in shape
The first litmus test in finding out if any action is of sin is to test the motive of your action.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians, Chapter 10, Verse 31).
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, Verse 19-20).
We all know as Christians that whatever we do, the purpose of our actions should be to glorify God. We can know from the above passage of scripture that it is God’s pleasing will that we take good care of our earthly bodies which are described as a temple of the Lord. Also, we are commanded to be good stewards of what God has given us, which also includes the earthly body that we currently have. Unless this is your ultimate purpose in getting in shape, you may not be in accordance with God’s will, or probably might even be sinning.
A lot of us, especially the younger ones, try to get in shape for aesthetic reasons: to look good to others or to please ourselves by having the ideal body that we want. However, if this becomes your primary motivation for working out and eating right, you may be complying with the world’s standard of beauty which is perpetrated through the media, portraying certain unrealistic body images as the ultimate standard of beauty.
As Christians, we ought not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewal of our mind, that by testing we may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans Chapter 12, Verse 2). It is certainly great that you are getting yourself out there for a good workout, but we must constantly fight with our flesh by renewing our mind so that we are not doing it just for the sake of looking good, but because it is pleasing to God that we live a healthy lifestyle, taking care of the temple which he has given us.
Once I realised this, I definitely changed my workout programme to include a decent amount of cardio exercises throughout the week instead of just lifting weights at the gym to build muscles.
But to be honest, getting to the gym in the first place is the hardest battle of all!
Workout in terms of priority
We have heard wise teachers and elders in our communities say that if you want to be productive and effective in your time management, we should always work our way through from the higher priority to the lower ones.
“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 Chapter 4, Verse 8).
From this verse, we can see that even though physical training is of some value, it is nowhere near valuable as spiritual training. It is only logical then as to what we should try to achieve first when we plan our day in the morning as we wake up.
I become super fatigued after long hours at work and I know I rarely get myself to go to the gym if I choose to go after work, hence why I choose to go in the mornings. Then I faced a conflict of interests: if I want to start off my day in prayer and devotion before the Lord, I won’t have enough time to get all that done plus a decent workout at the gym.
I have resolved the issue by just waking up an hour earlier at 4AM to do so, but in seldom situations when I cannot do this, I have always decided to sacrifice the workout and put my spiritual training in priority, because as mentioned in the scripture, spiritual training has infinite value in comparison.
I would recommend taking a moment to just examine yourself to see if you have been prioritizing physical training over your spiritual training, to see if you are giving the best times of your day to God for prayer/devotion, or if you are giving him the left over times after getting your earthly things sorted out.
Don’t become a legalist!
Remember what is important is your heart, not your achievement. God doesn’t demand perfection in our deeds and performances but an obedient heart. His grace and the work of Jesus Christ covers us in our failures, thus all we need to do is have faith in Jesus and get right back up despite our failures.
Many of you, like me, may miserably fail to take care of your body, or not be at the level of health that we wish to be in. However, I say to you: do not lose heart. God never asked us to be a health Pharisee or a health perfectionist. Not being in the most perfectly healthy state does not mean we are in sin.
But it is sinful if you are living an unhealthy lifestyle, neglecting your health and not even attempting to live in a healthy way. Although it ultimately depends on your circumstance, a jog might do or even just a 20 minute walk around the neighbourhood.
What is important is that you are conscious of taking care of your body and know that it pleases Him to be a good steward of the body that God has given you.
Richard Kwon is from Auckland, a regular lay person who just loves the Lord.