Physical Health: Fitness as Worship

Written by Karen Lau (Hong Kong)

Karen is the co-founder and President of Fit2Give Ministries, whose mission is to inspire and equip Christians to exercise purposefully, intelligently and joyfully, so that they may be empowered in their giving for God's Kingdom. She is also an investment and philanthropy advisor, happily married and mother to one adorable little boy.

July 2, 2024

A Third Way of Fitness

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

”So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

As I approached 40 years of age, I could feel my body slowing down. The clothes were fitting tighter. It was harder to travel with luggage. 2 Corinthians 4:16 (ESV) came to mind. 

“… we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 

2 Corinthians 4:16 (ESV)

Yes, we are wasting away, and of course, I would rapidly lose my physical fitness as I aged.
We are mortal. 

A personal training gym opened downstairs in my building.
I tried it out and to my delight, I discovered that with their help, I could be stronger even than I was in my 20s!
It turns out there is a lot we can do to not just maintain but even improve our physical fitness, especially in the middle age years!
Regular exercise also improved my energy levels, mood, and discipline.
Better late than never, I learned we should not ignore our physical fitness.

As I shared my excitement with friends, they told me stories about how focusing too much on physical fitness – especially for body image and intense competitions – was not healthy at all.
Very sadly, my first personal trainer suddenly died of a heart attack at the age of 24, driving this point home.
He had taken his bodybuilding to the extreme.
I saw that we must not idolize our physical fitness, because “the sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply” (Psalms 16:4). 

Praise God, there is a third way!
We may worship God with our physical fitness.
Here are three ways I have been learning this principle.

  1. Invest in physical fitness.
    Proverbs 3:14 (ESV) says wisdom has a gain that is “better than the gain from silver and her profit better than gold.” That applies to wisdom about how to build muscle and improve mobility.
    I never knew about proper nutrition, the importance of rest, and how to train my body effectively.
    Some people think spending time and money on physical fitness is a selfish luxury.
    However, it may pay great dividends by empowering you to do the good works God has prepared for you to do.
  2. Interrupt my physical fitness plans.
    A good personal trainer will ask you, “What are your goals?”
    At first, the only physical fitness goal I knew was weight loss.
    Now I know there are so many possible goals.
    For example, there are goals related to strength, mobility, speed, and specific skills.
    Physical training is fun but can be highly addictive.
    I remind myself that my physical fitness is a means and not an end.
    Sometimes, a ministry need arises and conflicts with my scheduled workouts.
    Oftentimes, church meals deviate from my desired diet.
    The tension is real.
    I need to keep flexible with my fitness plans to prioritize loving God and serving His people. 
  3. Integrate physical fitness with Kingdom missions.
    There are a growing number of opportunities to leverage sports and fitness to build relationships and community.
    I have made friends I would never have known because of my newfound passion for fitness.
    It has also been a joy to discover and support a variety of “fitness as missions” organizations.
    Considering fast-growing interest in sports and fitness in Asia, I hope more and more believers and churches will see that the harvest is plentiful in this area.

Reflection and prayer

  • Are you ignoring your physical fitness?
    The Lord cares about your body and wants to bless you as you take care of it.
    Did you know there are more effective and efficient ways to train?
    How might you invest to grow in this area?
  • Do you idolize physical fitness?
    How are you being discipled by the world instead of Christ when it comes to body image and working out?
    Are there unhealthy fitness practices the Lord is calling you to forsake? 
  • What would it look like to faithfully steward your physical fitness in this season? 
  • What are opportunities you see for Fitness as Missions? 

Dear Lord – Thank you for the gift of my physical body.
Every breath I take is sustained by Your love.
Thank you that I can move and train.
Help me to worship You in my fitness journey and to shine for You.
Please glorify Your name in my life and in the growing fitness sector.
In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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