Being fit for all the right reasons
    June 5 2018 by Kathy Ferguson Litton

    Let’s talk about a touchy issue. The topic? Health and fitness.


    Americans today are grossly unhealthy in record numbers. Despite having tons of resources and education, the evidence is mounting that Americans are more obese than ever and exercise isn’t helping, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in March.
    Among the study’s findings: Americans are eating an estimated 2,535 calories a day – up from an average of 2,075 in 1970.
    The words of a recent Reebok video caught my eye: “Honor the body you’ve been given.” It chastened me a bit, because their call to “honor” your body is one we as believers should be pursuing. We have more reason to honor our bodies than anyone.
    As 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 puts it: “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”
    Unfortunately, those of us who live and work in the world of vocational ministry have a bad track record when it comes to our health. In our tribe (Southern Baptists), statistics from GuideStone Financial Resources, the SBC entity that offers insurance and retirement for church workers, indicate that approximately half of insurance claims are for largely preventable diseases: hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease. These are problems caused by excess weight, poor diet and high stress.
    What does it mean to be “fit”? It is not trendy eating fads. It is not body shaming anyone. It is about an ongoing, comprehensive approach to nutritious eating, combined with consistent physical activity that is maintainable for each unique individual, which by the way eliminates most “30-day” anythings.
    What are the right reasons to be fit?


    The No. 1 reason is clearly a spiritual one. God has commanded us: “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The language “eat or drink” is clear, long before Fitbits, BMI and carb counters.
    We understand that even what we eat and drink glorifies God. Think about that. We reflect His glory by how we handle our appetites.
    Spiritual maturity requires that we control our fleshly desires and resist being controlled by temptations. While we might be resolute on this teaching when it comes to sexuality, our emotions, character, morality, this also includes the desire to overeat and the propensity to be sedentary.
    Without discipline, moderation and self-control, it is easy for our appetite for food to overtake us and for intentions of a healthier life to fall by the wayside.


    We cannot isolate the fact that our health and fitness affect others. Our choices, behaviors and mindset say something to a watching world.
    – In our families, our health choices deeply impact our children. Most likely you control the food choices in your home, so you can directly shape their understanding and choices about food as well as exercise and activity. No, it’s not automatic that they emulate our behaviors, but it’s fairly likely. Mothers and dads, what we do on this issue matters.
    – In the world around us, the cultural climate has increasingly become more health conscious. Yes, it might be to an extreme. But amid the science and mountains of evidence, do we look uninformed, undisciplined and unintelligent when our bodies, behaviors and mindset scream denial about this issue? When we move in a Christian culture that speaks of controlling the flesh in other areas – yet are glaringly inconsistent in the physical realm – we lose credibility.


    We understand God has given us resources He intends for us to steward, like our time, talent and money. The Bible is clear that we will be accountable for what we have done with those resources. This includes how we manage, maintain and value our bodies.
    Yes, we have been given one body to inhabit, and we are responsible to maintain it and use it fully. Ignoring its needs and ignoring its maintenance means we are not stewarding the body God gave us. So, if we are loading up on obscene amounts of sugar or fat that creates hypertension, diabetes or heart disease, we are not taking care of the temple of God and, in fact we may be destroying it prematurely.
    If we want to get the most out of our bodies, we must steward them attentively and intentionally. At 61, I fully appreciate the aging process. Stamina, energy, strength and vitality become more critically important to me every day. Physical movement and what I eat add tremendous value to my daily life. My energy level and stamina definitively increase. Weightlifting keeps my bones stronger. While I am running or cycling, I seem to find mental space for creativity. It certainly buoys my emotions. And typically this discipline breeds more discipline in other areas.
    Where do you need to start in developing an ongoing, comprehensive approach to nutritious eating – combined with consistent physical activity – that is maintainable for you? Considering taking the next step you need to take to be fit, for all the right reasons.
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Kathy Litton is the North American Mission Board's director of planter spouse care.)

    6/5/2018 12:57:54 PM by Kathy Ferguson Litton | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Fitness, Health

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