Fitness has become an economic windfall and a booming industry. It has been infiltrated by women in skimpy outfits and men with muscles bulging from beneath tight shirts. The whole focus of this industry is on the outward appearance. It has become about how "sexy" or "ripped" a person can become. Fitness has become the means in which one becomes attractive to the opposite sex. In our twisted society, being fit is too often about being good looking and not spiritually, emotionally and physically healthy.
This is just another way in which the world has taken something good and turned it into a field day for satan's work. Gyms are a place where men and women can hook up, lust over one another's bodies and built their own egos in the process. Fitness and muscle magazines show men and women wearing barely enough clothing to cover up their most private of body parts and sell sex more then workouts and protein shakes. The sexual aspect of the body has become glorified and embraced. Get in shape and flaunt your body. That is the message being sent in every grocery store check out, online body building site and gym locker room.
God's intent for our health and fitness has nothing to do with being sexy, ripped or attractive. He didn't give us muscles so we could show them off on stages in bikinis. He gave us functioning, strong bodies for the purpose of fulfilling his will and working to further his kingdom. A strong body is much more able to be a worker in his field. When we are weak we become dependent on other people, but a strong physical body is able to do the Lord's work and assist others who are physically limited or disabled.
Just think about how having a strong body can aid in your service to the Lord. If you were weak would you be more limited in how much you could serve and what kind of service you could perform? What can you not do in service to the Lord right now because your physical body's limitations are making it impossible?
God doesn't want us to be healthy so we can be better looking. He wants us to be healthy so we can be useful vessels for fulfilling his purposes on this earth. We can go to the gym, run on the treadmill, lift heavy weights and do it all for the glory of God. But that means we can't be doing it for the glory of our own bodies. We must be doing it with the intent of service to the Lord's work. How do we make sure we are keeping our intentions and motives pure? There is no sure fire way to eliminate the temptation to put our focus on physical appearance, but there are principles that we can put in practice to guard against this temptation.
Here are a few ideas and suggestions:
1. Watch what you wear. Keep your apparel modest and God honoring. Ask yourself this: if Jesus came walking into the gym right now, would I be embarrassed for him to see me?
2. Fill your mind with the right noise. Most people go to the gym with ipod in hand and headphones stuck in their ears. If this is a strategy that helps you push harder and focus then make sure the music you are choosing is of the right content. Music that spews sexual references and swearing is insidious. You cannot fill your mind with those thoughts and not see the results of it in your own life. Keep the message of your music pure. Choose songs with lyrics that set your eyes on Jesus and the truth of scripture.
3. Make workout time prayer time. While lifting, running or stretching take the time to talk to God. Thank him for your physical body and the amazing blessing it is to have muscles that can lift and move with such ease; marvel at God's creation.
4. Don't compare. This is a tough one, but it is worth the struggle. It is a trap of satan to compare your body to others around you or on the cover of magazines. Not only does this move your focus from God centered service to the physical body, it also creates lust and jealousy in the heart. Set goals dependent on your own personal abilities and body. Don't judge yourself based on what someone else can do or what they look like. Set your goals based on the body God gave YOU.
5. Stay in the scriptures. There are so many scriptures that are great motivators for getting physically healthy. Focus on these, memorize them and repeat them throughout your workout and your whole day.
6. Set time aside for rest. Don't go so gun-ho that you forget the importance of rest. If you are strength training 7 days a week you need to take a step back. Even God rested on the Sabbath. Keep Sunday a day of rest, fill it with church service(s) and fellowship. Working out and physical fitness is important but should always take a back seat to the commandments of God.