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Faith and Fitness

Faith and Fitness
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Faith and Fitness: 7 Biblical Healthy Habits to Connect your Faith and Fitness

by Ashley Christian

by Ashley Christian

Guest Contributor

In our modern world, we have completely separated our physical and spiritual lives. Fitness is not a typical sermon topic. Faith is set apart for Bible studies, while fitness is what we do at the gym. The problem with separating our faith and fitness is that we end up with an unholy view of fitness and become driven by our appearance-obsessed selfie culture, rather than a desire to honor God in all we do.

When we can’t measure up to these unrealistic standards, we fall off the wagon into emotional eating and convenience foods. This behavior pulls us deeper into shame. Shame allows us to bully ourselves in our minds. We say the worst things to ourselves we would never dare say to someone else.  

The result is an unhealthy body, which keeps us from doing all that God has called us to on this earth. If we’re busy with aches, pains, and preventable health conditions, we can’t be busy with the kingdom. Conversely, if we’re busy chasing appearance and bikini bodies, there’s not much energy left to pursue the heart of God.

The Bible has a lot to say about how we incorporate our faith and fitness or health. It gives us clear principles that are for our good and His glory. Let’s learn together how to honor our faith in God through our fitness by incorporating these seven daily biblical habits.

You can find out more about incorporating these seven healthy habits into your faith and your fitness in the Healthy Habits Bible Study, which is perfect to use on your own, or with a group of women from your church. Click here for more information about the Healthy Habits Bible Study.

Get Sleep

Matthew 11:28 says “Come to me all you who are weary and burned and I will give you rest.” God designed our bodies, and He knows what they need, which is plenty of rest. Our culture says we can rest when we die, but God tells us to rest which is an act of faith and trust in his provision. When we rest from our work, it’s declaring to God that we trust he will sustain us with everything we need. Rest after work is doing our part, and then relying on God to do his.

Psalm 127:2 tells us “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.” This is personally convicting for me as I tend to operate in cycles of overwork, and subsequent burnout. We need to ask ourselves, are we getting 7-8 hours of sleep at night? If not, what can we change to make that a priority? You and I both know it’s harder to display the fruits of the spirit to those in our lives when we’re running and 6 hours of sleep and caffeine.

Another important question to ask ourselves about incorporating our faith and fitness is, are we taking a break from our normal work once a week for a Sabbath rest? Are we doing things on that Sabbath that recharge our bodies and souls, like going to church, reading a good book, gardening, or having a meal with family or friends? What can we do to make sure our bodies and souls are resting in God?

Drink Water

Faith and fitness are about more than just “Christian workouts,” but addressing all the factors that affect our health and maybe making us feel bad. Drinking water is one of those crucial habits and believe it or not the Bible has a lot to say about drinking water.

In the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4, Jesus teaches us the importance of drinking water both spiritually and physically. John 4:13-14 says “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Are we remembering to replenish ourselves daily with Jesus and water? I recommend you drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. Even mild dehydration can cause emotional and mental changes making it hard to function as God has called us to each day. Use this trick—each time you drink water, think of Jesus sustaining you as the spiritual well that never runs dry.

Bible Study

In the same what that taking care of our physical bodies can impact us spiritually, the reverse is also true. The very best thing we can do for our faith and fitness is to be daily in God’s word. It can be as simple as having the verse of the day sent to your phone and taking five minutes to pause and reflect on it.

Matthew 6:33 tells us “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” If we have a strong desire to be healthy and physically fit, the Bible tells us the best place to start is by seeking him. When we have our priorities in order, the Holy Spirit can empower us to do things we could never accomplish on our own and orchestrate circumstances in the heavenly realms we couldn’t even dream up. It always pays off physically, to begin with, the spiritual.

Food Journaling

Proverbs 7:1-4 teaches us the power of writing down what’s important. “My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and to insight, “You are my relative.” The Bible teaches us that when something is important and worth doing, writing it down will help us live it out. If we would like to live out healthy eating habits, then food journaling is the best way to make it stick.

Eating healthy will give us more energy and lower our risk of many common ailments, and these benefits will allow us to serve the Lord as he designed us to. We have created a free food journal and habit tracker you can download to help you with this habit. We also have a 90-Day Healthy Habits Journal you can order. No matter how you do it, get something to track your habits and especially your food to see lasting results in your eating habits.

Download your free habit trackers!

Fitness

The Proverbs 31 woman was a fit lady. She needed those strong arms to run her business and the family farm. She used her strength to love her family and give to the poor. She was extremely active, and her fitness fit the purpose of God in her life.

The world gives us a backward pattern of physical fitness that’s all about making ourselves feel better by looking better. This me-centered approach to fitness only leaves us empty and perpetuates the cycle of yo-yo dieting and shame. A gospel-centered approach to faith and fitness is motivated by finding our value in what Christ did for us on the cross and giving our bodies back to him by the way we live.

These are two vastly different motivations. One leads to emptiness and burnout, and the other leads to life.

If you’re not working out, I encourage you to start with a simple 30-minute walk outside each day, and bodyweight exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, and planks. And when you work out, remember Romans 12:1 as your motivation: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer you bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

Work for the Lord

We can all fall into the trap of thinking we need to add a bunch of extra work onto what we’re already doing to bring God glory or be enough. The simple truth is God doesn’t want our sacrifices but rather our mercy. He can use the work we already do to bring glory to himself—it is enough.

1 Corinthians 15:58 tells us of this fact, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” This is such a comforting thought for us. If we do the work God has already put in front of us, we are guaranteed it’s not in vain. God can and will use anything dedicated to him, for His glory and our good. We can change diapers, change bandages, or change budgets all for him.

Worship

The final biblical healthy habit is worship. Worship is the most natural way we can connect our faith and fitness. When we exercise, if we do it to take care of the bodies he’s given us so we can serve him, that is worship. Worship is crucial to our long-term success because worship makes all things holy and set apart. We can eat, drink, rest, walk, work, and read as an act of worship.

1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Paul writes this to address heresies in the church that had developed from those who thought Christians shouldn’t indulge in the world in any way. They thought the more separation there was between the physical body and spiritual life, the more holy they would be. But this is not what Jesus taught. He is God who came in a physical body. When he met his disciples on the shore after his resurrection, the first thing he did was cook them fish to eat.

God cares about and has blessed everything we do in this body when done for his glory. He is more concerned with the position of our hearts than the deeds we do because everything starts with our thoughts. Thoughts of self-hatred or comparison will motivate us to binge diet to the point of burnout, and then binge eat to the point of making ourselves sick. Neither extreme is healthy.

Thoughts of gratitude to God for our bodies, and a strong desire to serve him both with our faith and fitness, are a motivation we can stand on. Worship is the motivation that will make these habits stick for the long term and help us to feel truly free from the grip of shame in our lives.

Next Steps

It is my hope and prayer this article has helped you see your faith and fitness as holy acts of worship to God. I also hope it’s helped you see the power of daily, biblical habits in your life. One of our sayings here at Gospel Centered Health is habits give change the power to last. If you want to be healthy for a lifetime, making habits a part of who you are as a healthy person, is the only way to make changes stick. And the best way to build a habit is to write it down.

That’s why we’ve created a pack of free habit trackers you can download, print, and use each day to track these seven daily healthy habits. Plus, we’ve created space for you to write out meal and fitness plans and a shopping list. This is an easy, fast, and free way to get started and see change that lasts. You can also join our free 90-day challenge group for online community and practical support with meal plans, workouts, and regular habit check-ins.

If you’re ready to jump in a make these changes a reality in your life, we recommend getting a friend or gathering a group of women from your church and going through the 8-week Healthy Habits Bible Study, written by Counselor Mendy Shriver. There is so much power in community as we heal from unhealthy habits and thought patterns of the past. We’ve also created a beautiful 90-Day Healthy Habits Journal you can use with or without the Bible Study. If you are interested in leading a group at your church, you can access our media kit with samples and a promotion video here.

Download your free habit trackers!

Ashley Christian

Ashley Christian

Ashley is an author and frequent contributor to the Gospel Centered Health team. She is married and has five teens/tweens through birth, foster care, and adoption. You can find her ministry for keeping moms emotionally healthy at marginsformoms.com

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