PHYSICAL EXERCISE


Have nothing to do with profane and silly myths. Train yourself rather in godliness (πρὸς εὐσέβειαν); for while physical exercise 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. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” (1 Tim 4: 7-9)

In our culture, often obsessed with “physical fitness” (and related issues like “body image”), it is easy to lose sight of its proper place in one’s daily life in Christ. So I love that here St. Paul mentions ”physical exercise” (σωματικὴ γυμνασία), not dismissing it offhand, but putting it in a healthy perspective. It does, he says, benefit us “a bit” (πρὸς ὀλίγον ἐστὶν ὠφέλιμος), but another kind of training, in “godliness” or “evseveia,” benefits us all around, “in every way.” And by “godliness” Paul means focusing on “the living God,” as well as “attending to the reading of Scripture, to preaching, to teaching” (1 Tim 4: 13). It provides us with a healthy attitude both toward “the present life” and its concerns (like physical exercise), and “the life to come.”

Today let me put first things first, re-affirming my focus on “the living God” and seeing to nourishing myself with His word. A connection with Him helps me see all “other things” in their proper place, and tend to them in their proper time. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Mt 6: 33)

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