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It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory. A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls (Prov 25:27-28).
Or 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 Cor 6:19-20).
Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Cor 9:25-27).
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers (1 Pet 4:7).
But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation. They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger (Deut 32:15-16).
I weigh 330lbs. And that is not right. And one thing that drove that home very hard recently was a trip to Jordan. The city of Amman is built on several steep mountains, which makes for a striking view but also is intimidating to walk. And then we went to the historical site of Petra where, under the desert sun, I climbed over 800 steps up a mountain to get to the Monastery. It took me much longer to do than the rest of my group, and I got pretty dehydrated doing it.
God wasn’t being glorified in my body.
One thing that strikes you when you read Paul’s writings is how much he talks about athletics. When Paul talks about the spiritual fruit of self-discipline or self-control, he very often likens it to athletic training.
And it makes sense when you consider that Paul walked across a good portion of the eastern Roman Empire on his four missionary journeys. Calculations need to be taken with a grain of salt of course, but it’s unavoidable that Paul walked thousands of miles over land during his ministry. Citing Paul the Missionary by Eckhard J Schnabel, Dr. Alex Tang in an article on kairos2.com claims that Paul traveled about 15,500 miles in his travels; 8,700 of which were over land. And his land travel would have mostly been walking!
This is something that is driven home all the more when I consider the city of Amman. In the Old Testament, Amman is called Rabbat Amman. The old citadel that I visited on top of one of the mountains there was the fortress David sent Uriah against when he murdered him so he could marry Bathsheba. Uriah—and all the men of the army of Israel—charged up that mountain to attack the walls while wearing armor under the hot and cloudless sky.
In the New Testament, Amman is named Philadelphia, one of the cities of the Decapolis. Jesus went there during his ministry on earth. Jesus himself walked through Jordan and probably climbed those mountains as well.
These are people who were physically fit. They could walk you into the ground.
Why are we so content to not be fit as well?
Ours is a sedentary society. We sit to work, sit to learn, and sit to play. And the evidence is overwhelming: the more you sit, the wider you get and the shorter you live.
Many of you are in college so you don’t have to live lives of manual labor. That is something my mother said often when I didn’t want to do my homework growing up: “Sure, you can grow up and dig ditches if you want to.”
Particularly in academic settings, our culture looks down on those who have to do physical activity. Yet, because we also know that being fat is unhealthy, we also look down on those who aren’t physically active. In fact, it’s generally culturally acceptable to straight hate fat people. Which just isn’t helpful.
But the truth is, the ideas of “healthy at every size” and “fat acceptance” are fundamentally flawed. The fact is, people my size are inherently not healthy, and it’s ludicrous to claim we are.
And being healthy isn’t just a matter of being fat or not. There are plenty of people with healthy body fat percentages who have terrible physical fitness.
The point is, whether you’re fat or not, you need to be healthy.
Regardless of how you look, are you glorifying God with your body?
So: Where do you start?
First, let’s just recognize that there’s a lot of hate and misinformation out there. People love to hate on things like Crossfit. And Crossfit does injure an alarming number of people. But Crossfit is so successful because integral in it is the social support people crave—and need. Very few programs create such good social support.
So acknowledging that there’s a lot of hate and misinformation, I would suggest you just dive in. Get active. Start doing something. Get a gym membership and go to the gym. Don’t be afraid to do things wrong or look stupid. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Start doing something.
And as you start getting active, start educating yourself. Read up on it. Find forums where people talk about fitness. Read medical literature. Listen to podcasts. Start sifting through the information.
If you need to gain or lose weight, there are some things out there to help you learn how to eat better. Iifym.com is a great place to figure out a good balance of nutrients to eat, along with recipes and such. MyFitnessPal is a great website and app that helps you track everything you eat and any exercises you do. Reddit.com/r/fitness and /r/loseit have some great info and support communities for getting fit.
You can glorify God with your body and your health. You can grow in self-control as you grow in health.
Do you want to?