American dancer and choreographer, Martha Graham, once said “the body is a sacred garment”. A wonderful idea and absolutely rooted in scripture. Nearly two thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul reminded us that our body is a “temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God… you must honour God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
So let me ask you this question – the third of seven questions that we should regularly be grappling with in our accountable disciple-making with others. Here’s the question:
What are you doing to cultivate good physical health?
God created our bodies to be healthy. So how are we co-operating with Him to ensure we develop good physical health? This is basic stuff and yet absolutely essential for whole-life wellbeing.
If we’re honest, many of us have issues with our eating and drinking. We might eat too much, too little, the wrong stuff, and at the wrong times. I tend to do a lot of travelling in my work with Urban Saints which often involves getting food at Motorway Service Stations. I know that it would be healthier to consume a tuna sandwich (or similar) and yet I find myself strangely drawn to a white-bearded man who delivers the most sumptuous chicken and fries. I wish I didn’t love this kind of food – but I do. And yet I know its regular consumption is not good for me. In Proverbs 23:20-21, the writer warns us “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” Perhaps you wouldn’t put yourself in this category BUT dare you be honest about your eating and drinking habits. Most of us would do well to improve in this area.
In 1 Timothy 4:8, Paul writes that “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things.” Many of us might emphasize Paul’s priority on godliness but let’s not ignore the first part of the verse. Paul is saying that physical exercise is important. The Greek word he uses is “gymnasia” – does that word look familiar? Whether you go to the gym, swim, run, walk, play squash or whatever – the Bible encourages us to exercise as part of our commitment to physical health.
In the creation account of Genesis 1 we see that God creates Adam and Eve on the sixth day. Their first full day in creation is day seven – Sabbath – a day of rest. After which they then have their first day of work. Here’s the biblical principal we mustn’t miss: we’re supposed to work from a place of rest – not rest from our work. Most fundamentally, this is about ensuring we’re getting good sleep. Sleep is an act of trust in God (Psalm 3:5) and it is a gift from God (Psalm 127:2). If we don’t get enough rest we feel tired. Tiredness can affect us physically, emotionally, relationally etc. For some of us the single most important thing you can do to improve your relationship with God, and others, is get a good night’s sleep.
This is important friends! Commit to make some changes in your life to improve physical health. Set some goals, start small, get accountable, persevere and then when you achieve your goal it will give you the confidence to go further.
American anthologist, Terri Guillemets once said “Exercise, play, move. Stretch, feel, reach, sweat. Skip, dance, hug! Use the body God gave you, don’t let it rot”. That’s good advice!
Honour God with your body.