As the apostle Paul–one of the great men of God in the New Testament—wrote to share wisdom and instruction to another uprising great man of God—Timothy—he included this bit of truth: “For bodily exercise profiteth little” (1 Timothy 4:8, King James Version). I came to a fresh appreciation of that statement a few days ago after I went to see the doctor for my annual wellness check; from the looks of some of the results of my blood work “wellness check” might not be the best description of the experience.
During the past twelve months I have tried to use a little discipline regarding diet and exercise in hopes of achieving better health. Not because I have been sick, but because I want to stay as healthy as possible with the passing of time. To accomplish that, I take a brisk walk in the mornings even when the weather conditions are sometimes unpleasant. Walking for my wellbeing has been a part of my routine for many years, but in the past year I added an additional exercise regimen with the hopes of making things even better. And I have spent a small fortune on fresh fruits and vegetables, in addition to the ones that I grow at home, to bolster my chances of improved health and to obtain better results from the lab.
After all the self effort, the time came to visit Dr. Brand. And in a few days the results arrived: the verdict was my test results yielded an outcome that was worse than last year! No wonder Paul wrote that there is little profit in bodily exercise!! It looks like I did all that for nothing. Hopefully not. I expect that without those efforts things would have been even worse, so I will keep exercising and go a little lighter on the country ham and fried fish. (And just to let you know, the fried chicken I had for supper tonight was fantastic.)
Obviously I took a bit of liberty with Paul’s statement about the limited value of physical exercise. To be fair, he was not speaking against exercise, but he was reminding that self effort to gain favor with God will not work. The remainder of 1 Timothy 4:8 states, “But godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
We should do what we can to stay as healthy has possible, but there is at least one thing that our personal efforts cannot change: our ancestry. Some things just “run in the family” and produce negative consequences that are not the result of personal neglect or any other fault of self. In the spiritual realm we have all inherited a “spiritual genetic” called sin. Romans 3:23 records: “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (New International Version). That is an eternal affliction that none of our personal efforts can correct, but there is a solution that achieves for us what we could never achieve for ourselves. No matter what measures we might pursue there is but one solution: faith in Jesus Christ. Notice these words from Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I was disappointed when I learned that my physical adjustments had not achieved what I had hoped for. It will be an even bigger disappointment with eternal consequences for those who attempt to solve their sin problem through their own efforts. When we do it God’s way by trusting in Jesus Christ, He will do in our lives what we could never do by our inadequate efforts.