There are a couple of verses that we’ve been misapplying for far too long.
Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4:7-8:
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
The King James Version translated this passage:
For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
Based on this translation, some people have concluded that Paul doesn’t want us to spend time exercising. Take that time and use it for spiritual growth, they think. That’s a far better use of that time.
That’s not a good application.
Paul affirms: bodily training is of some value. It’s part of our stewardship of our bodies. We are not disembodied souls. God has given us bodies, and we must care for them. Eating well, sleeping, and exercising are all ways to look after our bodies so that we can better love God and others. Because we’re interconnected, we won’t be able to train for godliness if we aren’t looking after our bodies.
So exercise! Get enough sleep. Manage your stress. Eat right. All of this is important, even crucial, for how we live.
But Paul also reminds us: godliness is even better than physical health. Don’t become so preoccupied with your body that you neglect your soul. The condition of your soul will matter for eternity, so don’t forget to care for your soul too.
Your body matters. Don’t ever believe someone who says it doesn’t. Care for your body, but care for your soul too. Both matter, even though the latter is more important. Steward bth your body and soul for God’s glory and for the good of others.