I think permitting the game to become too physical takes away a little bit of the beauty.—John Wooden
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.—1 Timothy 4:8
Son I think today most would agree we worship sports and athletic accomplishments based on how much money we spend on the pursuit of these things. But it is fascinating because, amidst our attraction, many nevertheless miss seeing and understanding the value of bodily stewardship. We, by far, enjoy the drama, the competition, or discussion but sometimes fail to see the great life lessons in fitness, exercise, coaching, and athletic pursuit.
I wish that many years ago when I was a teen and young adult that someone would have reinforced to me that I only get one body—a single physical machine—for an entire lifetime and that I must care for it for a lifetime. While we might think this is intuitive, my younger mind always thought I was invincible and unbreakable, and what I put into it and got out of it could be pushed to the limits every day without consequence. Yet this state of mind overlooks the importance of stewarding the physical machine we are given.
Here are a few essential thoughts on good physical stewardship.
Essential Thoughts on Physical Stewardship
One | Physical care is good stewardship
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.—1 Thessalonians 5:23
In this life, we are called to steward many things as men. One of the things we often default to thinking about is the stewardship of money. But there are a lot of other things we steward—one we often overlook is our body. The "machine" God gave to each of us during our lifetime is important. It serves an essential purpose, and we must steward it with care. This means we should understand physical care and exercise as needed, and not something we should neglect. We are only given one biological machine for carrying around our spirit and soul, and therefore, we must steward it with excellence. Notice Jesus's remarks in the Book of Luke:
One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?—Luke 16:10-12
The life principle is this: how we steward the small things, wealth, or otherwise matters—this is true of anything, including the body. Our body is our means of human existence, interaction, witness, and communication with others. We feed it so that we can have the energy we need to be faithful and fulfill our responsibilities in living out the good news as a witness to the world. This machine needs quality inputs and outputs to ignite strength and vitality to do God's daily work. And it's our individual responsibility to care for it.
Two | God cares about your physical body
And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.—Matthew 8:3
If Jesus didn't care about our bodies, he would not have healed people. But he did so frequently and for many reasons. With renewed energy, men and women who were healed by Jesus went on their way, praising God and telling the world about the One who heals not only the spiritual afflictions but physical ailments. These men and women went forward in life, walking again, seeing again, and experiencing community again. If they were hungry, Jesus fed them. If they were bleeding, Jesus touched them. If they were dying, Jesus saved them. Jesus did these things for people who wanted healed machines, and these people went forward, knowing that they should care for their bodies, stewarding them, because God values spirit and body.
Three | God cares primarily about your eternity
And when he saw their faith, he said [to the paralyzed man], "Man, your sins are forgiven you."
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—he said to the man who was paralyzed—"I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home."—Luke 5:20, 24
This instance is interesting. Jesus heals both the paralyzed man's spiritual and physical needs, but notice that Jesus addressed his spiritual needs first. Which if you read the story, you'll discover created an interesting moment of tension and controversy for a few religious leaders. But this is Jesus, always stirring up controversy by ordering things precisely and correctly.
The general principle is we discover from the order that Jesus performed this healing is "stewardship of the body," not the "worship of the body." And we know that we can overdo anything—including how we care and tend to the body. While care for the machine we are given, we should be careful about giving our bodies, sports, or even athletic pursuits priority over God—to the point they become God. Our bodies are the means of worship, not what we worship. Our primary need is for a relationship with God through the forgiveness that God provides, which is why Jesus does this first in the case of this paralyzed man. And at this moment, Jesus puts a big punctuation mark on its importance by doing it first.
So the lesson is this son—steward with care what God has given to you. And steward it in such a way it gives glory to God, not yourself. The body God gave you is your means of witness to the greatness of God. So run this life with endurance and do so with the health and physical stamina God gave you and so run the race with endurance.
Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.