There are so many practical applications that we can take away from the Bible. Although God cares more about our spiritual state than anything else, (1 Timothy 4:8) He does call us to care for our bodies. Whether you are trying to get on track with your health or are just more active since it is summer, how can we approach fitness with a Christ-centered attitude? What does the Bible say about exercise?
There are some specific men and women through whom God used physical fitness as a means of witnessing and ministry.
Daniel: In Daniel 1, Daniel was taken to the king’s palace to be a servant. He and his friends did not want to sin against God by eating the king’s food and Daniel spoke up to the chief official. They agreed to 10 days of eating their way, and then the official could look and test them against the others. Daniel 1:15 says, “At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.”
Even though exercise is not mentioned, it is clear that there was a test of physical appearance and likely their energy and strength. Daniel chose not to please the king, but to please God. He and his friends were in better health and it proved to the official and the other servants as a testimony to the existence and power of the Lord.
Ruth: This might not be the first person you think of, but Ruth’s physical strength allowed her to endure long days of gleaning in Boaz’s field to provide for her grieving mother-in-law. To give us an idea, she carried an ephah of barley which is around 30 pounds. Ruth was no weak woman.
Ruth 2:17-18 says, “So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.”
Bible Verses about Exercise
1 Corinthians 9:24-25, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”
These are great verses to reflect on with fitness goals. Our faith in Jesus should be our main focus, and through His help we can achieve our earthly goals and bring glory to Him. We can have self-control and discipline through the Spirit’s power.
1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Whatever we are doing, we are to do it for the glory of the Lord. This includes exercise. We can change our perspectives to being able to work out in gratitude for our able bodies, and we can use our fitness as an act of worship to God.
Romans 12:1, “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.”
We can present our bodies to God as living sacrifices. This means taking care of them, and we can use exercise to achieve this. Ultimately it can be an act of worship.
Proverbs 31:17, “She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.”
The Proverbs 31 woman is said to take care of her body. It literally says that she makes her arms strong. This implies hard work and physical fitness to accomplish everyday tasks at her best.
Hebrews 12:11-12, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees.”
Exercise involves discipline and sacrifice. In the moment it can be grueling or painful, however it yields results of strength and energy. We are called to care for our bodies that God has blessed us with in this life.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “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.”
Although in context these verses are referring to sexual purity, the concept of our bodies being temples of God is significant to ponder. The truth is that we as believers are filled with the Holy Spirit. He lives within us. When we exercise, we are taking care of the temple of the Lord. We are up-keeping His home as an act of worship to Christ.
How Can We Incorporate Exercise as Worship?
Maybe you have never thought about exercise as being a form of worship to God. However, the Lord can be glorified in all areas of our lives. One of these is fitness. When we take care of ourselves physically, we are more able to care for the needs of others. We have more energy to do the work of God. We have more strength to be of help. We even can make community with non-believers and share the gospel with them because we sacrificed time to go to a gym or be a part of a fitness class.
I love how the Lord can use things that seem mundane or even unappealing for our benefit and for His glory. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” All things includes exercise. May our perspectives change to keep Jesus first and invite Him into fitness. May we never make can idol out of our bodies or fitness, and may we never neglect our health and taking care of our bodies. Exercise can play a beautiful role in the kingdom of God.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Jonathan Borba
Emma Danzey’s mission in life stems from Ephesians 3:20-21, to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. She is wife to Drew and mom to Graham. Emma serves alongside her husband in ministry, she focuses most of her time in the home, but loves to provide articles on the Bible, life questions, and Christian lifestyle. Her article on Interracial Marriage was the number 1 on Crosswalk in 2021. Most recently, Emma released Treasures for Tots, (Scripture memory songs) for young children. During her ministry career, Emma has released Wildflower: Blooming Through Singleness, two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, and ran the Refined Magazine. You can view her articles on her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com and check out her Instagram @Emmadanzey.