Leviticus 19; Psalms 23–24; Ecclesiastes 2; 1 Timothy 4
Last Wednesday around 3:30 AM I was lying in bed wide awake. The alarm was set for 4:30 AM and I wanted to go back to sleep, but thoughts of the new day were creeping in. The thoughts started with my excitement for that day’s workout; first a spin class (indoor cycling as part of a classroom format) then Tabata (high intensity interval training), then finish with 10-15 minutes of deep, intensive stretching. While this for some might sound like pure torture, for me it has become exhilarating and extremely rewarding to push my body to its limits – I love it! I hadn’t had an intense workout in four days and was really missing it; my body was rested and ready to go.
Except it wasn’t time to go yet, so I started praying. Since I was thinking about exercise, I started by thanking God for making the human body with purpose. I was thanking him for giving me the strength to exercise, for the joy that it brings to me, for what the human body is capable of, and for the health benefits that come with exercise.
My medical understanding of exercise is that it benefits us in many ways such as controlling blood pressure, helps keep cholesterol at proper levels, strengthens the heart, and helps us maintain a healthy weight (and much more). From my own experience, when I think of exercise I enjoy “sweating out my problems”, where I’ll go for a long run and really process a situation; it helps me think positive and oftentimes brings clarity through the fog. I also love the after-effects of exercise; increased energy, the feeling of accomplishment, and the post-workout shower is a great reward.
There is a problem though. Exercise involves physically training a human body, and human bodies are not built to last forever. Physical training is a temporary investment in something that will eventually fail and die. Just like Ecclesiastes 2 where we read about the futility or vanity of pleasure, work, or even living wisely; while enjoyment of these things is a blessing from God, they all will fade in this life.
There is a solution to this problem. It is called Godly training. Godly training is a spiritual investment in something that will last for an eternity.
7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 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)
Godliness is of value in every way. What a great promise! I’m reflecting on the post God Speaking to Us where David LaFrance mentioned that Godly training has strengthened his soul and state of mind. He also uses words like revived and restored, and shared that God’s word breathes “new life” into him.
Training in Godliness trains us how we should live so that we can live abundantly. Today’s scripture reading has numerous, valuable training instructions as an explanation of the ten commandments including:
- Revere (honor) your mother and father and observe God’s Sabbaths (days of rest). Leviticus 19:3
- Do not turn to idols; Leviticus 19:3.
- Give to the poor; Leviticus 19:10
- Don’t steal, don’t lie; Leviticus 19:11
- Don’t swear falsely using God’s name. Leviticus 19:12
- Don’t oppress or rob your neighbor. Leviticus 19:13
- Treat people with disabilities fairly. Leviticus 19:14
- Judge in righteousness; not out of partiality. Leviticus 19:15
- Don’t gossip. Stick up for your neighbor. Leviticus 19:16
- Don’t hate. Leviticus 19:17
- Love your neighbor. Leviticus 19:18
Spending time thinking through that list reminds me of much room for improvement and some necessary repentance. How about you?
God, thank you for the instruction you give through your word as it guides us, corrects us, and points us toward you. Thank you for allowing us to experience pleasure and joy here on Earth. May we experience these gifts in a way that honors you. Please show us where we may be idolizing earthly pleasures and experiences so that we may put you in the rightful place in our lives as our first and foremost. We recognize this life on Earth is temporary, but your kingdom is forever; thank you for the grace and mercy that we receive through your son Jesus Christ. Amen.