This blog is part two of our Jesus Series and today we open our hearts, minds, and Bibles to learn from Jesus’ example in our fitness. This series is important for every Christian to know because we rely on the Word for help with our marriages, parenting, and finances, but what about our health, fitness, and wholeness?
Let’s dive in!
Elisabeth Elliot’s quote captures this perfectly: “We cannot give our hearts to God and keep our bodies to ourselves.”
Has this ever happened to you? You walk into your closet to get dressed, and as you try on outfits a conversation starts in your mind—thoughts like, I need to lose weight, I need to start working out more, I hope no one notices the weight I’ve gained. You find nothing seems to fit right, and it’s making you miserable. You frantically change a few times before finally settling on your go-to outfit for those days.
How many times have you promised to eat cleaner, to work out, to try harder next time? But then no matter how hard you try, you always seem to give up. Life gets busy, the kids get sick, or the results don’t come fast enough. There just doesn’t seem to be enough motivation to keep you focused, but deep down you know there’s a better version of you. You long to be her, to be free of all this, but you push these thoughts of a better you aside for when you have more time.
Somewhere between criticizing your body and promising to do better, you never made this connection. Instead, you fight this battle on your own, and you live in a prison of wrong thoughts. Struggling with your body image and trying to get fit and feel comfortable in your skin seem like things you could never ask God about, or even consider praying for, so you suffer in silence, feeling less than.
In your heart you love God, and you love fitness. But maybe no one ever told you that they need to be done together to work correctly.
The goal of this blog is to impress upon you how important you are to God. You are the manager of the temple He has given you on this earth. Your body is not your own, so it needs to be taken care of the way the owner, God, would take care of it. This means you need to take full control of your fitness so you can walk in victory. We do this by dressing ourselves with strength (physical strength) and by gaining a heart of wisdom and understanding (spiritual strength).
"She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong." – Proverbs 31:17 ESV
"For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth comes knowledge and understanding..." –Proverbs 2:6 NKJV
When you make Jesus the centerpiece of your fitness, you will experience something very uncommon in our world, and that is grace. In a world full of comparison, number idolatry, and quick fixes, grace is our gift from Jesus.
Making your time in movement a holy, set apart time with Him will give you energy, motivation, and a peace that create results, because it takes the emphasis off of you, the scale, the numbers, and makes it less of a perfection project and more about actually taking care of yourself to be your best you for Him.
Okay, as much as I’d love to tell you that the Bible has a perfect workout plan—something like workout for one hour a day five days a week by taking HIIT classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and weight training on Tuesdays and Thursdays—it doesn’t.
But Jesus still is our example. Did you know that He and the disciples walked an average of twenty miles a day? I’m not saying we need to do that, but I am saying that our role model for living this fit life was active. He wasn’t sitting around all day. He moved His body and had to be incredibly fit. Jesus walked and hiked to be able to serve and we must move our bodies to do the same.
Have you heard of the Jesus Trial? It’s a forty-mile walk from where Jesus grew up in Nazareth to Capernaum, where His ministry was based as an adult. It takes four days to hike this trail, with each day's hike being between eight and twelve miles.
Mark wasn’t kidding when he said, “As Jesus walked…” (Mark 1:16 NIV).
When I first heard the words “Jesus Trail,” I pictured a serene stroll on flat ground. I was so wrong. I love hiking, so I opened up the All Trails app on my phone and found out this trail is hard! Picture this: In order to leave Nazareth, you have to climb straight up 405 steps. The trail has an elevation gain of 4,842 feet., and it is 40.2 miles long. And let us not forget, Jesus was wearing sandals. As a hiker, I cannot imagine how His feet felt.
Here is another example of the physical strength and cardiovascular conditioning of Jesus. Matthew 6:12 cavalierly says, “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi…” It’s easy to read that and not know the walk from Capernaum to Caesarea Philippi is 32.4 miles and takes 10 hours and 57 minutes to complete.
Don’t Miss It!
Let’s not allow our eyes to glaze over the names of these towns—Nazareth, Capernaum, and Caesarea Philippi—and miss the fact that Jesus walked everywhere He went. His daily life was packed with movement, and He had to have been very fit. Many of us use pedometers, like a FitBit or a Garmin, to get in a certain number of steps every day. A common goal is ten thousand steps. There are roughly two thousand steps per mile, so ten thousand steps is equivalent to five miles.
Look at how many steps Jesus and His disciples had to take to get from Capernaum to Caesarea Philippi: 32.4 miles equals 64,800 steps!
Although times have changed and we no longer have to walk everywhere, our bodies were made to move. We need to intentionally move our bodies and exercise ourselves for His calling. Have you ever noticed that Jesus didn’t expect people to come to Him like the rabbis of His time? He walked everywhere to serve others. I have to point that out because it speaks so beautifully to His heart for us and how we need to be fit for our calling.
Read this scripture there are so many truths in it that apply to our desire to live and be fit God’s way.
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:6–15 NKJV)
Notice how it says:
**Walk in Him.** This is to trust Him and rely on Him, not in our ability.
**Rooted and built up.** This means He is our foundation, and we are built up by the Holy Spirit.
**We’re warned not to allow people to cheat us through philosophy or empty deceit,** which makes me think of how deceptive the fitness industry can be.
And my favorite part is that **we are complete in Him.** That means right now, regardless of where we are on our spectrum of fitness, we’re enough in Him, we can have what He says we can have, and we are who He says we are.
One Saturday morning, I went to my favorite HIIT class, and for some reason, I was really struggling. Maybe it was because the class was really hard, or it was from a lack of sleep. Either way, I found myself staring at my shoes and wondering how I was going to make it through. As I looked down at my rose gold ASICS, I saw this:
In a crazy loud gym and a room packed with people, God showed me He was with me. He was my strength in my weakness—and friend, He is yours, too. The more we invite God into our fitness space, the more we will see Him at work and experience Him in ways that strengthen us and fuel our fitness on a completely new level.
Romans 12:1 tells us, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Working out God’s way requires us to shift our mindset away from self and toward Him. You may feel like your physical body and your spiritual self are completely separate, but in bringing them together you will find deeper and lasting motivation.
Here’s a list of ideas to help you work out God's way:
If you’re anything like me, you love bullet points or key takeaways, so here are a few very important ones.
- Inviting Jesus into our fitness means we seek Him first, we surrender our fitness to Him, and we ask Him to bless our efforts.
- We change the motivation of our fitness from a “me” project to a “He” project.
- We work out to honor God in our bodies, to be the very best version of ourselves so we can take care of our families and grow the Body of Christ through serving with our God-given gifts.
- We take full control of our fitness by dressing ourselves with strength (physical strength) and by gaining a heart of wisdom and understanding (spiritual strength).
- We understand that the internal changes from our workouts, although unseen, are of great value and that the physical manifestations come last.
- We no longer workout to achieve a look, but now view fitness as a lifestyle of stewardship.
- We embrace that we are not numbers or body parts, we are the body of Christ!
"In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might." (Ephesians 6:10 AMP)
"In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul." (Psalm 138:3 NKJV)
"Help me, O Lord my God! Oh, save me according to Your mercy, That they may know that this is Your hand—That You, Lord, have done it!" (Psalm 109:26–27 NKJV)
"Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders You have done, and the plans You have for us--none can compare to You. If I proclaim and declare them, they are more than I can count." (Psalm 40:5 BSB)
Before you go, pray this aloud.
Give me a heart on fire to bring You glory and honor You in my body (1 Corinthians 6:20). I present my body as a living sacrifice, one You find holy and acceptable (Romans 12:1). Forgive me that in the past my motivation to work out was separate from You. I’m beginning a new habit of dedicating my workouts to You. Your Word instructs me to dress myself with strength (Proverbs 31:17). Help me through the power of the Holy Spirit to turn from my excuses, laziness, and preoccupation with the numbers, and become strong from the inside out. Save me from poor health, that they may know this is Your hand—that You, Lord, have done it (Psalm 109:27). Please bless my efforts. I come to You with the right motives. My heart is sold out for You and Your plan for me. I want to be fit for my calling (Jeremiah 29:11). I pray that You would thwart Satan’s plan to come against my health or tempt me to quit for any vain reasons. My strength comes from You, Lord, my rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14). I’m fully relying on You.
In Jesus’s name, amen.
If you’re wondering how to put all of this into a daily system, my book Fit God’s Way will teach you how with the 7 Ws. You can print your template for free here!
Here they are:
**Word:** Read your Bible and pray.
**Worth:** Practice placing your worth in Christ to find confidence, strength, and grace.
**Whole, God-Made Food:** Choose whole, God-made food over man-made, processed foods. Focus on quality ingredients versus obsessing over quantities. Pray before meals.
**Water:** Divide your weight in half and drink a minimum of that many ounces per day. Add seven to ten ounces of fluid every ten to twenty minutes during exercise.
**Work Out:** Move and strengthen your body five to six days a week. In addition, take walks outdoors to spend time in God’s creation and mini-movement breaks throughout the day to increase your non-exercise activity calorie burn.
**Worship:** Listen to Christian music, sing, dance, and praise God.
**Wake/Sleep:** Establish a wake/sleep cycle, and a morning/evening routine to put yourself to bed in the peace of God and wake up in His power.
Remember you are Strong. Confident. His.
Download 10 of my favorite fast and easy God-made grab-and-go recipes for FREE!