Tuesday, September 20, 2011

To Exercise or Not to Exercise, that is the Question!

1 Timothy 4:6-8
Exercise yourself towards godliness….
I hate to exercise- in fact it is my least favorite thing in the world. I know that in some way I should exercise, and I should take care of this temple- this temple that Jesus dwells in, but…I don’t. When people talk about exercising and how much they work out, my reply is, “If you can’t spell it, you shouldn’t do it- and I have always struggled with spelling exercise.” (Spell check is doing it for me right now!)
As I was reading this morning in 1 Timothy 4, two words stuck out at me. Yes, one was “exercise”. Oh no! Are you telling me I need to exercise? You know how much I lack in motivation, Lord. Then the next word jumped right off the page- “godliness”. He was telling me that I need to exercise godliness. I think I can do that- but how? How do I begin to exercise godliness?
When you do a study of the word exercise, in this context, you find it means- “to train the body or mind, to exercise naked, to have a God-ward attitude.” Naked! What? Can you imagine going to the gym today, stripping off all your clothes and getting onto the treadmill? Now, please, do not go and try this- you will lose your gym membership- I guarantee it! But Paul is not referring to exercising our physical bodies. He is encouraging Timothy to exercise his spiritual body.  You would not go to the gym naked to work out- but if we are to exercise ourselves towards godliness, we must be willing to be naked.
Hebrews 4:13 tells us, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” We are naked before God- there is nothing hidden in our beings that He does not know about. We can try to cover it up, but He sees it and knows it is there. If we are to “exercise ourselves towards godliness” then accepting the fact that we are naked before Him, is the first step towards this goal.
When someone begins an exercise program, they start out small and as their strength and endurance builds, they add more and more to their routines. A body builder, when he begins to lift weights, does not begin with the largest bar-bells, he starts out with what he can handle, and builds upon that. We as Christians, who desire to train our bodies and minds towards pleasing God must do the same. We must start out with the basics and allow God to build upon that foundation which He has laid. Allowing Him to reveal our nakedness and allowing Him to be our trainer.
It’s not about what I eat, or don’t eat, it’s not about how much I work out, or in my case, don’t work out. It’s about how much of my time I spend towards God. Before you begin any exercise program, there is one thing you have to give up- and that is your time. You have to set aside time to do the program. We are asked of Paul to do the same thing. Set aside our time for God. We start out small, reading our bibles and spending time in prayer. As we mature, and as we begin to “train ourselves” and allow God to “train us” we will begin to want more of Him and less of everything else. We will begin to feel “spiritually good” our minds and our bodies will benefit.
Paul tells us in verse 8 that, “bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” Bodily exercise does profit us in the flesh a little- but I must tell you, from experience, all that exercise will one day leave you, and then what have you profited? Working with seniors who were once active, exercised and did all the “right” things, now, some of them are living in wheelchairs, their minds have gone and they are totally dependent upon someone to care for them. But if we could learn to apply that same concept of exercise and eating right towards God- wow, think of what benefits would come! Not only here on earth with Christ, but the eternal benefits that await us in heaven!
I am not saying that we should not take care of that which the Lord has given us- we should, for we are the temple of God. But what are we eating? What are we exercising? Perhaps we are eating “TV” dinners- spending more time in front of the TV than with God. Maybe we are exercising gossip, or perhaps we are exercising our minds towards worldly things. Remember, we are naked before the Lord. He is asking us to give up something today- whatever it is, that is taking you away from Him. Whatever it is, ask the Lord to help you, and start a new exercise program- one that leads to Him and eternity, one that will profit you not only in this life, but in the life to come.  Let us start afresh an exercise program that will please Him and give us a God-ward attitude. Let us begin to train our minds and our bodies for Him, and to Him and because of Him.
Jon Courson, in his commentary wrote, “There is, indeed, a little profit in bodily exercise. It’s a good thing-but not nearly as important as exercising oneself in godliness. If you have to choose between working out and worshiping- opt for worship every time. If you have to choose between Bible study and body building always go with Bible study. It’s good to jog and to do deep knee beds, presses, and curls. But I wish people would put the same emphasis on jogging their memory of Scripture, bending their knees in prayer, pressing on in the faith, and curling up with a good Book- the Word of God.”
Amen, I couldn’t have said it better myself! So, what exercise program are you doing today?