Fitness: Inside Out
The first thing you might think of when talking about inside out fitness is a tee shirt fresh from the dryer. Chances are it’s inside out. The tag sticks out. The seams are showing and if the shirt is branded, you can’t see the graphic. You won’t wear it like that. You look bad. But fitness inside out is a little like character in that what’s inside the person counts more than how that person looks. Read on to see what we mean.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,…. you are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
The second greatest commandment is to love others as yourself. With a strong body produced by a strong Spirit you can be more fit to serve and do good works. That’s the goal. The apostle Paul tells us run our race in such a way as to get a crown that will last forever, not one that can be destroyed (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Set your mind, heart, soul and strength on things above, the eternal prize of glorifying God in your body. Running the race aimlessly and beating your body like a man beating the air will disqualify you for the prize. When you set your mind and heart on things above (Colossians 3:1) the rest will come as a result of a mind stayed on Christ. Like we always say here, “The way you look will be a result of your hard work in training.”
A Warped Fitness
So I was listening to a pastor on the radio the other day. What he shared really put my career of building strong people into perspective. He was telling the story of when and how the enemy came about; when he fell from heaven into hell. Lucifer was originally an angel of God; a being “of perfect beauty”. He was covered in every precious stone. He had pendants and jewels of gold. Lucifer was beautiful before he sinned. An expression of God’s own beauty and power.
But like man, Lucifer’s very nature changed when he sinned. His (Lucifer’s) physical appearance may have as well. The pastor said that the key moment of turn was when he saw himself beautiful. From there, he became prideful and fell. Ezek. 28:17 “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty.”
The Fine Line
I feel there’s a very fine line in fitness. We’re called to take care of our temples, for it’s the greatest gift we’ve been given. However, like most other things we often take it into our own hands, warp it, and screw it up. As a result, our fitness becomes vanity to us. We work out because we want to look good. Because we want to be beautiful! And all the “I wants” like, “I want to fit into these jeans again, I want a six pack before summer, I want to loose 20 lbs., I want to look like _____”.
These are selfish requests. As a result, God is not in them. God had given Satan a certain amount of power and authority. But Satan perverted that power. In many ways I feel this is exactly what we do with “fitness”. We pervert it. We take the act of being healthy and taking care of what God gave us and morph it into a continuous vanity contest.
“People know how to tear apart flinty rocks and overturn the roots of mountains. They cut tunnels in rocks and uncover precious stones. They dam up the trickling streams and bring to light the hidden treasures…” Job 28:9-11
The True Treasure
In the same way that we know how to find the wealth of this world we also know how to use the gym to unearth the results we are looking for. The intense fitness program, watching what you eat, lifting to increase strength. But without wisdom, all of that assumed wealth (strength) is as worthless as silver and gold to a person whose life ends.
Matthew 6:19-21 tells us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…. for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
And what do we gain from a strong body that can lift and run and jump if it houses a mind that worships self and a heart that has placed an idol of “self-image” on its altar? We end up with a body that is alive and a spirit that is dead. A healthy, fit body is built up from the inside out. The focus of our devotion should be first on serving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Mark 12:29 tells us it is the most important commandment.
So how do we serve God with our minds and strength? By recognizing that the riches of this world, such as physical beauty, our BMI or how much we can lift can hinder our spiritual growth if we do it for our own edification. But if it flows from the knowledge that we are caring for the temple of the Holy Spirit we gain strength to the body and life to the soul!
My Fitness Inside Is Seen Outside
Man is unique among all God’s creations, having both a material body and an immaterial soul/spirit. The good news is that when God redeems an individual, He begins to restore the original image of God, creating a “new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24)
Sometimes I wish we could change our job titles from “coach/ trainer” to “Ambassadors of the temples”, now there’s a title! I truly believe God has called us to come along side His spiritual redemption in His people and bring these broken temples back to life through an amazing journey of physical redemption and transformation, creating a “new self”, created to be in God’s image.
God already thinks each one of us is beautiful…
He wants us to take care of his creation, His temples, His hard work and creativity in designing each and every one of us differently. As long as that is our soul focus – to take care of our body and to take care of it to the best of our ability with what He has given us, then we’ll have nothing but success.
The greatest gift God has ever given us aside from our salvation through Christ, is our bodies, so when we’re taking care of them through the means of fitness and wellness, it’s an amazing act of worshipping Him. So yes, when you’re laying on the ground uncomfortably crying after getting killed by a workout, God has the biggest smile on His face!
The beauty He sees when He looks at me is not from me or anything I do to make myself appear to be beautiful. The beauty I have that attracts God came when I accepted Christ into my heart. He brought with Him all the beauty I would ever need. Now when God looks at me, it is not me He see but Jesus in me. That is what makes me beautiful to God.
Who am I in Christ?
- A New Creature (2 Corinthians 5:17) No longer focused on what the world considers “pretty”.
- The Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)
- More than a conqueror (Romans 8:37)
- Complete in Him. (Colossians 2:10) Lacking NOTHING.
- Alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5)
- Healed by the stripes of Jesus. (1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:6)
- Being changed into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 1:6)
It is the Lord who gives true wisdom and real understanding. It is out of these truths that a healthy body flows.
Check out this journal entry from an old friend:
“A friend of mine wrote a song called “Do You Want to be Well?” It’s about the man at the pool of Bethesda. In John 5, it says “One who was there had been an invalid for 38 years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
This year, I turn 38. My whole life I have identified with weakness, fear, insecurity, pain, sickness and shame. It’s become the backbone of who I am, despite my Christianity and perfectionist bent on life. It invades all my thoughts and distorts the truth, even the truth of God’s Word. I am currently battling Hashimoto’s disease, leaky gut and depression. I pray for physical healing all the time.
Jesus knew and could see the physical infirmities in this man at the pool, but His question “Do you want to get well?” cut straight to this man’s heart. Hebrews 4:12 states “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
God could instantly heal my body, but what place would my mind and heart be in? Would I continue to inhabit the place of despair that I’m so used to and comfortable with. I think it’s something I want gone, but would I long for its familiarity… missing the identity it gave me? Sounds absurd!
My identity is in Christ Jesus, yet I don’t trust my heart and I think I’m more absurd than I allow myself to believe. Jesus, you know. You can cut straight to my heart and see everything. Yes! I WANT TO BE WELL! Well mentally. Well in my heart. So well that my every thought is subject to the truth of God’s Word alone, minus the fear. And yes, I want physical healing in my body to glorify you.
As for performance in the gym, I realize this body belongs to God. I don’t want to speak negatively about it anymore. I’m responsible for its care and I act on the wisdom God gives me in how to care for it.
I’m going to utilize every gift and strength I have, yet be gentle with myself as I embrace my weaknesses and failures. I can’t climb a rope or do a pullup (yet!), but I have a body to glorify God with. I see the enemy’s power over us in the area of self hatred. If we embrace and love what God has created us to be, the power of the Holy Spirit is going to be unleashed.”
Fitness Inside Working Out For The Kingdom
The greatest adaption in fitness happens between the ears. Let’s strive to become strong people to core of who we are. Let’s be as strong away from the barbell as we are under it. And let’s live with such power that even the people around us will never be the same.