After high school, I went on a diet and lost a significant amount of weight. Then, in college, I exercised regularly and ate pretty much whatever I wanted and kept the weight off. However, after I got married to an excellent cook, went to seminary, had children, and began pastoring churches, exercise fell completely out of my regimen. Furthermore, food is something I really enjoy. I like restaurants, different cuisines, and food in general. I have gained all the weight I lost in college back.
However, in the last several weeks I have lost 15 pounds by eating better and exercising. I am grateful for the Lord’s grace in this. I could not have done it without my family and the help of our friend Jon Willmore, who has a great website we use: www.willmoretraining.com
I am not, and doubt I ever will be, a “fitness” guy. Fitness people see exercise as a hobby. I really think that exercise is a cool hobby because it is utilitarian. I am not down on fitness people, but honestly exercise is not fun to me. It is 100 percent sheer discipline and grunt work for me. I have even produced a little psychological trick for myself: my hobby is listening to podcasts, so I might as well exercise while I enjoy listening to Freakonomics. So I run on my treadmill I got for my birthday (yes, receiving a treadmill for your birthday is essentially an intervention) while I listen to podcasts. So, you may be like me when you read something like this. “Man, good for him. I wish I could get motivated.” Trust me, I understand. However, I want to show you 3 reasons why I have gotten serious about diet and exercise.
1. Diet and Exercise Are a Matter of Stewardship
I have one life to live, and I have one goal with my life: to bring glory to the risen Christ. I have a singular, all-encompassing focus in my life that revolves around my identity as a Christian. Guess what? That’s what you were made for also! You were made to glorify Jesus Christ with the one life you have been given. How are you spending that life?
My grandfather died when he was 38 years old of a heart-attack. My genetics, then, are probably predisposed to heart disease, and my natural habits only exacerbate the genetics I have been given. I understand that life is a vapor, and I understand that if the Lord wants to take me He will. My life is in His hands. However, He has also called me to be a steward of the life He has given me. He uses means to bring about His sovereign will. Therefore, I want to be a wise steward of my body and my life. I hope to get to spend a lot of time with my grandchildren one day. Being a pastor emeritus sounds like a lot of fun as well.
2. Self-Control is a Fruit of the Spirit
Every week I stand in the pulpit and preach God’s Word. I try my best to help people see the greatness and glory and grandeur of God in every single sermon. I am trying to demonstrate the way that our crucified and risen Lord draws our noses out of the dirt of the daily grind and toward the beautiful dawn of the age to come. It has to be a tough to trust someone who tells you this all the time and cannot seem to control his own appetite.
The Scriptures make clear that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, and I am confident that includes self-control and discipline in diet and exercise. If I am called to be a herald of the reign of Christ, shouldn’t I seek to bear the fruit of self-control in all aspects of my life?
3. Living According to Your Passions Rarely Stays Isolated
The New Testament brings up the “passions of the flesh,” or our appetites, quite often. One of the passions of the flesh is the appetite for food. Often, I have felt like overeating was an “innocent” vice. It’s a way to indulge the flesh without consequences except for weight gain. Is that really true though? Of course it isn’t!
Note what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians: “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” (Phil 3:18-19)
He talks about some who are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose god is their belly. Here he is talking about self-worship centered around the appetites. However, his choice of the word “stomach” or “belly” is telling. You can be assured that a pattern of indulging the flesh will rarely stay in one area. Indulge your belly long enough, and it can be your god. Indulge your belly long enough, and your submission to the flesh can easily spread to other areas. I have realized that discipline does not happen in silos. If I want to continue in submission to Christ in all areas, I must also submit to Christ in seemingly benign areas.
So here I am, on a diet and exercise program. I hope and pray that, by God’s grace, I will be able to continue to show the kingship of Christ over every facet of the world–and my life.