Some Bible versions say that bodily exercise profits for a little time. When I got on the treadmill the other day, the truth of this verse was very obvious. It takes a long time to get into shape, but it seems to take very little time to get out of shape. So while I was huffing and puffing, I thought about the things in life that are of little or no value, and those that are of eternal value. Some have thought that bodily exercise is of no value, but I don't think Paul was teaching that. He made too many references to Olympic-style games for me to believe that he didn’t read the sports news in the coliseum newspaper from time to time. He realized that a Spartan-like obsession with physical conditioning was only going to last for a little while, but he knew that the same kind of attitude toward godly exercise would be profitable forever.
Some of us spend most of our time on things that are of no value. I think the “profane and old wives’ fables” that Paul refers to in 1 Timothy 4:7 fall into this category. These were obviously godless myths and tales that were not true. Many people today listen to the profane teachings of godless men and women without realizing that man does not have final answers. If God has not given us the final answers in the Bible then we aren’t going to get final answers because man is simply not God. Man is creative but he is not the Creator.
We find it easy to be spoiled through “philosophy and vain deceit” (Col. 2:8). Philosophy is the reasoning of man, while vain deceit is an empty lie. Philosophy starts out by saying “I think” or “So and so thinks.” Empty lies are what Christians were trying to defend against when the book The Da Vinci Code was published. I never could figure out why Christians were defending the truth against a book that said right on the cover that it was “fiction.” Of course, I couldn’t figure out why Christians would read it either. Spending time with such things might be entertaining, but they certainly have no lasting value.
Paul says that “godliness is profitable for all things” (1 Tim. 4:8). In other words, it has great and lasting value. Later on in the same chapter, he says that the exercise that profits for eternity is the study of, the meditation on, and the teaching of the Word of God (1 Tim. 4:11-16). Some weeks I have to admit that most of my time is spent doing things that keep me from what I should be doing. Even doing the Lord’s work can sometimes get in the way of sitting at the Lord’s feet and listening, which He also wants us to do (Lk. 10:38-42).
We become “children of God” by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:12). Then as children we need to get into the right exercise routine so that we begin taking on the features of our heavenly Father, and begin losing the features of our worldly “father the devil” (Jn. 8:44). Instead of spreading lies, we should be telling the truth. Instead of destroying, we should be building. Instead of dividing, we should be uniting. Instead of hating others, we should be loving them. Instead of questioning God, we should be trusting Him.
I think I need more of the right kind of exercise.
By Bruce Collins
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org