Gospel Relevance

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Does Exercise Even Matter In The Christian Life?

During a recent Twitter Q&A session, someone asked Tim Keller what keeps his passion for the gospel so white-hot, and his energy so high.

“Exercise,” said Keller. And in parenthesis he added “treadmill.”

Apparently, Keller is a runner.

At first his answer stunned me. Then after quick reflection, it made sense.

To be sure, that was the second part of his answer. In his first part, he was quick to admit that reflection and meditation on the Scriptures is what fuels his fire. But we shouldn’t take lightly that Keller added exercise.

Photo Credit: Via Comfight CC

Photo Credit: Via Compfight CC

Paul writes to Timothy:

 “…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 4:8).

Paul says physical training is of some value. What he doesn’t say that physical training is of no value. It’s helpful for this side of things. But godliness, on the other hand, says Paul, is of value in every way — both in the present life, and life after death. The point is clear: godliness is more important than physical training, but physical training is not irrelevant.

This is no secret if you pay attention to how God has wired our bodies. Study after study shows that exercise boosts energy levels, alleviates depression and anxiety, helps with stress, fights off fat, and can even elevate mood. And that’s just a short list of a myriad of benefits.

But you already knew that. You’ve heard that a hundred times.

The question is: are you implementing this in your life?

Personally, I like to lift-weights, eat healthy, and do cardio three times a week. This is what works for me. And trust me: When I neglect this area of my life, I notice a negative impact on my body and mind. My energy is low, I feel prolong feelings of sadness, I get anxious quicker, I can’t pray and read as energetically. I’m just not myself.

How about you?

If you’re not already doing so, I’d like to encourage you to start exercising. Pick something you like: running, weight-lifting, basketball, walking, swimming, or whatever. Just pick something, stick to it regularly, and enjoy the benefits. You’ll find yourself more energized for all spiritual and personal disciplines. Your life — and the lives of the people around you — will be better because of it.

God won’t love you more if you get a six pack. And if you become a runner, I can’t promise your life will become like Keller’s. But I am certain that a regular exercise regime can benefit any Christian in more ways than one. Especially if you are not already doing this.

Ready to go for a run?

Questions and Comments: Do you find exercise to be helpful for your life? What kind of exercises do you like to do? Post your comments below.

About David Qaoud

David Qaoud (MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary) is associate pastor of Bethesda Evangelical Church in St. Louis, Missouri, and founder of gospelrelevance.com. His work has appeared on The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Banner of Truth. He lives in St. Louis with his wife and son. Learn more.

7 Replies

  1. Yep. I figure exercise is good for my body, which is good for my brain, which in turn is good for my soul. Exercise may not make me a spiritual person, but it helps minimize unnecessary barriers along the way. Good thoughts, David!

    1. Mitch, great point. It does eliminate barriers along the way! It’s a win-win all across the board.

    2. Susan Fink

      I also think that exercise, in this visually stimulated world, helps us to communicate better with everyone overall. When we are seen as someone who fits in to ‘this world’ visually, we up our presentability factor, and it’s almost then easier and more powerful when we speak to be an inspiration to others who may have some preconceived notion of what we ‘religious nuts’ look like or do, that is differently than they do. Nothing! We don’t do anything different… other than seek God and follow Him more, and more deliberately, because of Biblical knowledge and gratitude for what the Holy Spirit has revealed to us.

      1. Yeah it can help contexulize things if we look presentable. Snowing interests in the hobbies and avocations of others, like exercise, can lead to share the gospel with someone.

  2. Gabrielle

    I have the privilege of having exercise classes at my job on my lunch break. I exercise for about 45min to an hour 4 times a week (unless I have a lunch meeting). I have also started running on Saturdays with my roommate and hitting the gym together afterwards. Me and some sisters are going to do a night race 5k in a few weeks and I am very excited about it. I am by no means a health nut. My eating habits leave a lot to be desired as I am usually on the go and find it hard to cook as much as I should. But me before and after exercise is like night and day. It really helps me feel more level and in better moods. God created our bodies as these delicate and yet strong complex systems working together and it is great to see what happens when we take care of it and treat it as something special.

    1. Absolutely agree. It’s a night and day difference, and no matter where we’re at with our physical condition, we can all start somewhere.