Don The Armour

August 17, 2023

I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:27 (NLT)


This post is about a touchy topic, but I think it needs to be discussed. I see many Christians, especially pastors, making light of gluttony today. I can’t tell you how many Baptist sermons I’ve sat through where the pastor did a comedy routine on overeating or being overweight. Why is this acceptable? “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble” (Rom. 14:21). They take this idea of not causing a brother to stumble to heart when it comes to alcohol but ignore it for food. Often the pastors I see joking about this appear struggle with this sin themselves, but even those who don’t may be causing other members of the body to stumble.

“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 Tim. 4:8). Some people interpret this as Paul diminishing physical training, but I see him encouraging it. Think about how fit most people in the ancient world would have been. They had to walk everywhere, lived by manual labor, and had no machinery to help them. Naturally, they were already fit, but Paul still says bodily training is valuable. How much more valuable is it now in the sedentary modern world?

Our minds and our bodies are very closely linked, so how will we discipline our minds if we can’t discipline our bodies? I’m not suggesting our preachers be like David Goggins and perform deadlifts on the altar. You can take fitness too far and make it an idol, like anything else. But we need a body of strong warriors for Christ, which requires overall health: mind, body, and soul. Let’s promote physical health so we can be an example of discipline and self-control to the world and live longer, fuller lives, glorifying and serving God as long as we can.

Many will say I’m overreacting, and it’s all light-hearted and in good fun. First, I would argue that the pulpit is not the place for light-hearted, good fun. We are there to worship and learn about the Almighty God, the most profound thing we can do as humans. It should be a place of reverence, not entertainment. Second, we should never make light of any sin. Paul didn’t make light of it when he said “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (Phi. 3:19). Many believers are out here fighting against the ever-present temptations of gluttony and sloth. They struggle daily to be disciplined and have self-control over their bodies and desires. The church should be a place where they can find encouragement in this struggle, not flippancy towards the sins they battle.

If you struggle with these issues, please understand I’m not criticizing you personally; I’m only admonishing the church’s attitude towards sin. I love all my brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of their afflictions. And because I love you, I want to encourage you to get out there, eat healthy, and exercise. You’ll be amazed by the mental and spiritual clarity that comes with good physical health. God gave us an incredible gift with our bodies, so let’s treat them like the temples they are.