I begin to miss Chicago style deep dish pizza if I go more than a week without it. The same could be said of good hot wings: they call to me from afar. I once wrote a poem about how bacon enhances any meal. Needless to say, I deeply enjoy food. Sadly, I often gravitate toward unhealthy foods rather than toward healthier options.
This year, I’ve made a point to start disciplining my body. Part of that comes through exercise and part through a healthier diet. And while things appear to be going alright initially, I’m beginning to understand that discipline involves more than just generally trying to do better: discipline requires hard work. This, in turn, can lead to discouragement as I consider all that must be forsaken for the sake of health. If I would be a good steward of this earthly body, then I must work hard in exercise, I must control my food intake, and I must surrender my desires for fatty foods and fried snacks for a greater goal.
Paul’s words to Timothy challenge us to keep running with this idea. In his letter to the young pastor, Paul writes,
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness: for while bodily training 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.
1 Timothy 4:7-8
Paul’s words here helped to connect something for me. In my pursuit of physical health, I consider what serves to advance my progress and what serves to hinder it, and I try to implement the positive and minimize the negative. So I’ll try to avoid sodas and sweets while I try to eat more vegetables and protein. I’ll try to avoid laziness and try to get into a workout routine. But if godliness is much more important for the believer than bodily training, then why don’t I take the same approach? Why don’t I avoid taking in the world’s advice and pursue a diet more full of biblical truth? Why do I still choose scrolling through pages on a phone rather than studying the pages of Scripture? The more I thought through the situation, the more clearly I began to see the issue: I can grow discouraged when I consider all that must be forsaken for the sake of holiness just like I grow discouraged at what must be forsaken for the sake of physical health. I enjoy junk food, both literally and spiritually. And while neither may be bad in moderation, a diet of only junk food can be disastrous.
This week, I need to focus on exercise, on eating right, and on taking care of this body that God’s entrusted to me. But more than this, I need to focus on God’s word, on pursuing holiness, and on stewarding well this life that God has given to me. Let the need for discipline in my body remind me of the greater need for discipline in my spirit. And may I be found faithful, walking in the strength that God supplies. He is faithful and holy and worthy of my worship, and he is worth the loss of any earthly thing.