A Workout that Lasts

Throughout my life, I’ve gone through seasons when I’ve been really motivated to work out. When I was in high school I just wanted to be buff enough to impress girls (I failed). In the months before my wedding I was trying to work on my honeymoon beach body. These days, I’m just trying to make sure I live past my twenties. My motivations have changed over the years, but what hasn’t changed is how fickle those motivations are.

Maybe you’re naturally motivated to work out—shout out to my friends who post pics and videos of their training regimen each day. But if you’re like me, your motivations go up and down like a kid on a trampoline. What if the results from your work out lasted forever, though? Would you be more motivated?

Hard Work Pays Off

During the Winter Olympics last month I was in awe as I watched lightning quick bobsledders and highflying snowboarders. I was impressed by their athletic excellence, but I was even more impressed when I thought about the disciplined training it must have taken to get there.

At the end of each event when the victorious athletes stood on the winner’s podiums, with smiles on their faces and medals resting on their chests, they were reaping the benefits of their training. But according to the Bible, there’s a superior kind of training—not because physical training is worthless, but because it’s limited.

If you’ve ever wondered what God thinks about your workouts, here’s the answer: He thinks it has beneficial, but limited, value. So while you’re running, doing drills, and lifting weights, rest in the knowledge that it’s a good thing to do. Keeping your body in good shape is commendable—even wise—but it’s only going to get you so far.

This is what the Apostle Paul said to Timothy:

But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, for the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.(1 Timothy 4:7-8)

We could sum up Paul’s thoughts on working out like this: Physical training is good, but spiritual training is better. And that’s because physical strength is temporary, while godliness is eternal. When Paul talks about “training for godliness” I think he means doing the things that make you spiritually stronger. It means engaging in the activities that make you more godly. Maybe lifting our Bible is even less desirable than lifting a weight, but neglecting it means we miss out on more than good health.

Forever Is Better than A Moment

We all know that when something lasts longer it’s more desirable. No one buys a car knowing it’ll break down the following month. We’d rather buy something that lasts a while, because we’ll get more out of the investment. But if we’re so calculated with decisions about cars, how much more calculated should we be about our souls?

How often do you think about your eternity? The truth is, we should think about it more than we do. There’s no question that all of us will live forever; the question is what that forever will be like. So we should make investments now, knowing that the consequences will never end.

This should impact what we focus on from day to day. Sports are good, but they’re not everything. Your physical strength may get you into college, but it won’t get you into Heaven. You should take good care of your body, but we have something weightier to care for. How healthy is your soul?

How To Train

God enables us to build “spiritual muscle” when we let go of sin and grab a hold of Jesus. And then he sends us to the gym. He’s graciously given us his word, his people, and even his ear. So let’s read, fellowship, and pray. Athletes train hard because they want to be prepared for the game or match ahead of them. They want to be able to compete at a high level.

All of us will face spiritual tests, trials, and battles everyday. Are you prepared? Coasting doesn’t work for athletes and it won’t work for Christians. Last year’s Bible reading isn’t enough to sustain you this year. We’ll only make it through this marathon by God’s grace, but he prepares us for the race through our spiritual exercise.

It’s helpful for me to remember that while the benefits of physical training are limited, the benefits of spiritual training are unlimited. On those days when I don’t feel like praying or reading God’s Word, I can remind myself that the benefit isn’t small or temporary. It won’t only help me next week, it will help me in the next life. That’s all the motivation I need.

SHARES

37 comments

  1. Daniel DryIce ReyesReply

    Trip thank you for this. For the past week I’ve been fearing death. I don’t know why but I do. I really needed to be reminded that heaven is the best thing ever and this earth won’t get me anything.

  2. GregBrownReply

    Thanks for this bit of encouragement! It is easy for some of us to become obsessed with eating healthy and exercising. But do you spend more time planning your meals and at the gym, than in times of prayer and study of the Word? It’s easy to have your priorities messed up, even on the mission field.

    Blessings in Christ to all!

  3. MattReply

    I agree. The spiritual fitness/exercise is FAR more important than any physical fitness/exercise, but I ALSO believe that both can be done at the same time as well. I know there is a fine line between working out for yourself and working out for God, but there is a difference (believe it or not). Working out for God, physically, includes the spiritual element. For instance, when you have a workout partner, you two talk periodically when you workout together. Imagine if, when you two talk, it isn’t about a pump, your muscles, etc. Instead, when you talk, speak from your heart, and have fellowship with one another in Christ. The physical working out may be a common interest for those in the gym, but if you add the spiritual aspect, your fitness with go to an unearthly level (right where we are supposed to be), spreading the love of Christ. Colossians 3:17

  4. CaseyReply

    It amazes me how The Lord speaks in so many different ways. I was wrestling with the thought of “I should work out today” but was feeling like I fail at this area over and over again and somewhat feel it can be wasted time if it’s not something continuous in my life. Reading this blog was a reminder from God that He>I and when I focus on Him and train spiritually, I feel so much better and trust that it’s not time wasted. I think staying healthy is important but I know that digging into His word and seeking him is well worth every second of our life. Time with God is never wasted. Thanks for being obedient to what Christ has called you to share. I needed this. God bless You and your family Trip!

  5. DonnellReply

    Man this is awesome stuff, I love what you stand for. I love learning from your teachings in your music and now your book “The Good Life”.

    THANK YOU!

  6. MrsRondoReply

    This was awesome. The two things I hope to gain and retain this year and yet I struggle with the one that is far more important than the other. Thanks Trip, your timely blogs have been very inspiring, and they constantly point me back to Superstar.

  7. Tee-boyReply

    Bro this is what I needed. I’ve been struggling and fighting with the spirit for the last couple of days. Just forgot to pray, read my bible, and even go to church. This is a wake up call. From now on I’m a changed man in Christ. I even thought God will n longer listen to me because of my ungodly life. Jesus died on the cross for me and I know I’m always welcome in his presence and he is just and faithful to forgive me from my sins.
    Bro I thank God for your life and the great work he he’s doing through you. God bless you for accepting his works.
    Stay blessed my brother.

  8. LoganLongReply

    I think this is very relevant in our culture today. How often do you see people at the gym for hours? Trip, I work at the YMCA and I see the same people day in and day out for at least an hour of working out, but generally more than that. And it gets you thinking, there’s probably a lot of Christians that come into my Y (We’re the largest in Indiana), so how many of them are spending 1-2 hours a day engaging themselves in spiritual activity? This is relevant to me because it’s the call out I needed to get back in shape physically and spiritually. Thank you brother.

    God bless,
    Logan Long

  9. JoshReply

    Hey,

    This is a word-for-a-season. In a culture there are so many social pressures to look good and for guys to be fit and ‘buff’, we can get so caught up in what we think we should be like, in what others tell us we need to look like.

    Saying that God thinks that workouts have limited value is spot on, compared to the eternity we can spend with God.

    This reminds me of David’s story when he is anointed king by Samuel 1 Samuel 16). God says in verse 7, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

    Bless you,

    Josh

  10. MannyRuizReply

    Really encouraging Trip! Anything that gets me closer to God truly brings me happiness and strengthen me! So thank you man. I really appreciate you. I’ll keep praying for you :)

  11. LiamReply

    Trip I am big into working out, but I have to remind myself to read this post every once in a while. Helps keep me focused on what really matters

  12. BrianReply

    Wow as a fellow blogger I love the content of this. I am a workout buff but it comes easier than sometimes finding the time to pick up my Word daily. I then wonder why I don’t stand up to trials like I should. Awesome reminder. Thanks Trip

  13. NjokiReply

    This is really encouraging and it has been something that’s been on my mind. I don’t read my Bible everyday, in fact, I could go for 2 or 3 days without getting in touch with God’s Word…but now I know that I’m denying myself eternal benefits. It means so much to me that what I read today will help me next week or next month. I can’t rely on what I did last year, or last week…I’m working out for my eternity!!
    Godliness has value for ALL THINGS holding promise for both the present life and the life to come!
    Thanks Trip Lee, for letting God work through you…Imma read the Word more! :)

  14. NgosaReply

    that was awesome message Trip, I have always wondered whether working out is wrong or not or simply unnecessary. Your analysis clears the air on that one. Thanx, keep BRAGING BRO!!