“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Would a Proverbs 31 woman have time to go to the gym?
If you’d posed that question several years ago, I’d have popped my headphones back into my ears and continued repping to my favorite worship music, or pounding the pavement to the lively voice of a good preacher. I certainly would not have wanted to answer you. I didn’t have a problem; I had a healthy addiction to being “healthy”.
I accepted Christ as the one true God and my personal savior at the age of seven. Since then, growing in a godly home, I was taught to aspire after the mysterious Proverbs 31 Woman. But through the tangled years of adolescence, a different god warped my thinking and I began to pursue the idols of beauty, strength and thinness, all the while professing the risen Christ and devoting (my spare time) to Him. Let me share the short list of what it cost, or almost cost me:
- My marriage
- Intimacy with God
- The ability to have children
- Peace of mind
Admittedly, most people who struggle with an imbalance in this area of their life will never face the dire consequences that I did. However the Bible says, “All wrong doing is sin” (1 John 5:17). Idolatry is placing anything in a higher priority than Christ, or seeking from something else that which only He can provide (health, peace and confidence to name a few). And the old adage that sin will take you farther than you want to go, has always been true.
Another familiar truth is the foundation upon which we raise this question: Where we spend our time is a good indicator of where our heart’s loyalty lies.
Let’s take a quick look at the Proverbs 31 Woman’s to-do list—personalized.
Do my husband good
Work with willing hands
Feed my household
Make wise financial decisions
Organize my home and those who work within it
Serve the needy
Make myself beautiful and desirable to my husband
Find joy in the possibilities of the future
Teach and counsel others with wisdom
At first glance, I don’t have a lot of free time to devote to securing my health and appearance; our model woman’s life is entirely other-focused. But I think taking a closer look at the Scripture will reveal the proper place for a pursuit of fitness in a godly woman’s life. It’s the passage’s one instruction about appearance.
This woman makes an effort to be lovely. It’s telling that the very next verse comments on her husband’s reputation in the city. She obviously has bearing on how he is perceived. She is not unattractive or sloppy; she dresses well and carries herself with dignity. Also, the chapter speaks of how she dresses her bed. This might be a covert reference to the fact that she keeps herself attractive to her husband sexually.
While the Bible seems to give a quick nod to vanity, there’s a check at the end of the chapter lest we go too far.
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (v. 30)
The most outstanding commonality in all the things on the Proverbs 31 Woman’s to-do list is truly the attitude of her heart. It is not deceitful and vain, but rather diligent, self-less, attentive, focused, joyful, fearless, available and generous.
I think the insertion of phrases like verse 22 show the weight that God places on our appearance and effort to preserve our own bodies: It is not unimportant, but it is entirely secondary.
Galatians 5:16 has the consummate answer for developing the heart attitude of a Proverbs 31 woman. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” A walk with the Spirit is time consuming. It means placing time with the Lord ahead of the desires of our flesh.
We’re often reminded not to make excuses like “I don’t have time” when it comes to skipping the gym. But how often have we used that excuse to bypass time alone with the Lord?
And Paul seemed to be speaking right into this conundrum when he wrote to Timothy, “ … 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)
Are your hackles raised? Have I stepped on your one “addiction” or your “me time”? I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to bad mouth fitness; in fact, I personally enjoy it and commit time to it daily. But I do believe that our culture has swung so far in the direction of physical idolatry that it’s hard to say enough on the other end of the spectrum. That said, there are numerous ways to pursue a healthy lifestyle without sinking ungodly amounts of time and money into this pursuit.
Try searching YouTube specifically, and online generally, for workouts that take 20 minutes or less and can be done at home. To get you started: www.benderfitness.com, www.zgym.com, www.fitnessblender.com; and on YouTube check out the channels by Gymra, Millionaire Hoy and Christine Salus.
God does indeed care about our health and in His word acknowledges that it’s a good thing to desire long life and good days. But it begins with realizing that the goal of long life will never be met by physical effort, but by turning our hearts toward Christ and pursing the Prince of Peace.
“For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.’ ” (1 Peter 3:10-11)
♡ If you enjoyed this story, I’m sure you’ll love this too → God’s “Fruit Diet”: Put an End to Emotional Eating.