I love hiking because it meets a lot of needs all in one go:
- Physical activity (fitness)
- Refresh my mind and clear out the distractions of the world
- Time alone (sometimes)
- Time with God—one-on-one with my Lord and Savior Jesus
It’s good for the mind, body, and soul. It’s always great to be out in God’s creation!
Fitness is Temporary
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he wrote,
“For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come (1 Timothy 4:8, NKJV).”
“Bodily exercise profits a little.” Keeping fit is something we need to do for our bodies to function properly.
I was a British soldier for over 23 years, and training to stay fit was a job requirement—although I genuinely loved doing it! I still keep active today, but the reality is this body is getting older and slower!
During my time in the British Army, I served as an Airborne soldier—reputedly one of the hardest courses in the British Army. We would travel for miles with over 80 pounds in weight on our backs and still be battle-ready when needed.
A few years ago, when I was about 50, I was out hiking on my own. It was a short, hard hike straight up the side of the mountain. It was very challenging, and I was going as hard as I could, puffing and panting. In my mind I was telling myself, “You still got it Frank! You’re still awesome!”
I was about two-thirds up the trail when I leaned against a tree to get my breath back. Suddenly, a young woman in her early twenties ran past me and pleasantly said good morning.
At this point, I was barely able to speak! She just kept running on, barely breathing or sweating. It was at this point my brain said, “Who are you kidding, Frank?! You are no Airborne Soldier anymore!” Reality had kicked in. And to add further insult, the young woman passed me going down and I still hadn’t reached the top.
The moral of this story is that we can’t go on in these bodies forever. They are temporary.
It makes sense that the Bible tells us bodily exercise profits little because we’ll only be in these bodies for a short time. It’s important to take care of ourselves, but most of what we do and have now won’t be needed in eternity with God.
Godliness is Eternal
The second part of 1 Timothy 4:8 reads,
“but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”
This is about a life now and into eternity for all those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Godliness, or “God-like-ness,” is the transforming life of a believer through the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in us.
Paul is instructing Timothy about setting the right priorities in his life, especially as a minister of the Gospel. Is his focus on temporary things or the everlasting eternal relationship with God?
Temporary things will expire but the things of God are eternal. We can do the temporary earthly things and the spiritual eternal things at the same time, but the priorities must be spiritual because they profit us now and into eternity.
Physical training will eventually be redundant, but Godly spiritual growth will continue to transform us to be more like God. And there’s no expiry on that!
“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:17, NKJV).”
So, just as Paul instructed Timothy, we must choose our focus and priority—today and for the future. Is it temporary or eternal?
Paul himself had the right focus and priorities in 2 Timothy 4:6-8:
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-8, NKJV).”
An old British preacher, Alan Redpath, once said “It is entirely possible for a Christian to have a saved soul but a wasted life.”
So, let’s be sure we’re spending time with Jesus to realign our priorities so that we can be more eternally-focused. Let’s ask the Lord to remove the clutter and distractions so our priorities align with His.
May each of us run our race with focus and purpose, growing in our most holy faith as we are led by the Holy Spirit.
Written by Frank Irving