1 Timothy 4:8 says “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.” When I came into a vital, personal relationship with Christ, I was heavily involved in collegiate track and field. That verse sounded like it was invalidating all my hard work. I was wrong.
Physical training has many positive benefits that extend beyond just a healthy physical body. It can help reduce stress, improve sleep, boost confidence, and increase productivity. Not only that, but it can also help with mental clarity and give you a better outlook on life. So where’s the balance? Start by looking at the previous verse. 1 Timothy 4:7 – “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”
Paul taught Timothy to ignore myths and old wives’ tales. Instead, focus on training yourself for godliness. Paul compares physical training for an athlete with spiritual training for godliness. He says that physical conditioning is of some importance, but is less important than a godly life. Why? The answer has to do with the difference between temporal value and eternal value. Working out is a good thing. At the very least, it means taking care of the body God gave us. But physical fitness only benefits us while we have this physical body. But spiritual growth impacts eternity. It has value “for both the present life and the life to come.”