Living in the Extremes
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)
Some people give their physical bodies a lot of focus from extremes with exercising, weightlifting, and dieting to an obsessive focus on appearances through clothing, hair, nails, etc. I also know many who don’t attempt to care for themselves physically much at all past the bare minimum. They pay little attention to what or how much they eat, and physical appearance seems last on their list of priorities.
At one extreme, there are people in top shape physically but doing little for their spiritual fitness because the “some value” placed on the physical is choking out any attention on the spiritual. At the other extreme, many people, while effective for God, limit their potential by neglecting the “some value” placed on the physical self.
In no way am I saying that attention toward the physical and the spiritual should be equal. Balance does not mean equal. What I am saying is that while that which lasts into eternity should hold a larger portion of our life’s focus and should be a higher priority, the physical aspect of this life does have “some value” right now. We do ourselves — and God — a disservice if we completely neglect or give too much focus to our physical selves.
Understanding the Value
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
To help better understand the balance between priority toward the spiritual and giving “some value” to the physical, consider how a life focused largely on the eternal must also live in as healthy a way as possible in the physical here and now. Let’s look at what 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and 2 Corinthians 4:1-5:10 say about this balance.
- We do need our physical bodies — our tents — even if only temporarily.
- Our physical bodies house the Holy Spirit.
- We don’t own our bodies. God does.
- We are to honor God and aim to please him with our bodies.
- Our bodies also hold precious treasure, namely, the light of the truth of Christ as Lord.
- The struggles of our bodies connect us with Christ’s death, and his life is seen through them.
- The frailty of our physical bodies creates a longing for heaven.
- The troubles in our bodies point to great glory beyond them.
- We will be rewarded based on what we do and don’t do in our physical bodies.
- Christ bought us with a price. We now show gratitude for his sacrifice through our physical selves.
The more I read in the Bible about the value placed on my physical body, the more I realize the importance of doing the best I can with what I am given in this life. Doing so demonstrates good stewardship of this temporal life given me.
At the same time, what I do in and with my physical body also demonstrates my eternal focus, the even greater value placed on godliness and the honor I can give God in this life even as I long for life beyond this temporary dwelling.