Does 1 Timothy 4:8 Promote Exercise?
Many fitness-minded Christians point to 1 Timothy 4:8 when asked about what the Bible says about exercise.
It says, "Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 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. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe." 1 Timothy 4:7-10
While this verse does discuss physical exercise, I don't think it means what many people make it out to mean.
This verse is not Paul's call to Timothy telling him to exercise. This is Paul saying, "Timothy, you know that physical training is valuable. However, it trains your physical body that is wasting away. If it's important to train something that is temporary, how much more important is it to train for godliness, something that 'holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.'"
Paul is not using this to promote physical activity, but rather using it as a comparison - you know physical training is good for you, but it's temporary. more important is it to train for godliness that will be important, not only now, but for eternity?
Rather train yourself for godliness; 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.
As you go about your journey of stewardship, remember that physical training is important, but it cannot replace our spiritual training.
Also realize that this isn't an either/or thing, but rather a both/and. You don't have to choose between the two, but rather need to find ways to put them both in their proper place.
If your exercise:exegeses ratio is way off, you need to find ways to bring it back to an appropriate level. At the same time, remember that there is some value to physical training. If you've been neglecting your health, even in the pursuit of other good things, it may be time to incorporate some more activity into your life.