The Bible tells you that man looks at the outward appearance, but God cares about your heart. As a Christian, you have the privilege to know God and rejoice in who He is throughout your day.
Exercise is a beautiful opportunity to honor God in your daily routine. Here are five ways you can make exercise an act of worship.
1. Be Thankful for Your Body
Some Christians express concern over worrying about their body image — leading to concern that these thoughts could be sinful. However, it’s perfectly normal to think about your appearance and desire some change. By choosing to take care of your body, you are performing a glorious act of caring for your most precious gift from God.
Genesis 1:31 describes God’s joy in His creation before sin entered the world: “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” Although sin brought separation, it didn’t damage God’s affection for you. In Romans 5:8, Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
In Psalm 139:13, David wrote, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” God created you with love and intention and he knows you intimately. It is healthy and holy when you recognize your worth as a human being and learn to love yourself in the way God does.
2. Monitor Your Self-Talk
One of the best ways to honor God in exercise is by monitoring how you talk to yourself. As you exercise, pay attention to your thoughts and watch how you respond to yourself. Do you treat yourself with disgust? Or are your thoughts toward yourself compassionate, kind and nurturing? Keep a list over several days to see what patterns emerge.
Here are some examples of unhealthy self-talk you might have while exercising:
- You’re so awkward — you look awful.
- You’ll never be as pretty/strong as them.
- You’re so behind — it’s hopeless to pursue your goals.
After identifying these unhealthy thoughts, practice actively replacing them with Scripture. Self-deprecation might feel true, but it never honors God. It’s an attack on your worth as a human being and doesn’t align with what Scripture says about you. God created you to have a loving relationship with Him — devaluing yourself only devalues His creation.
You can also take action to show love to yourself. For example, make time in your day to work out and recover. Nourish yourself with healthy food and plenty of water. You can also invest in a set of new workout clothes — these boost motivation and can maximize your workouts. Eventually, how you treat yourself will change how you see yourself.
3. Choose Worthy Goals
Many people work out to look a certain way. Although there’s nothing wrong with having a fit body, it’s worthwhile to ask why your appearance matters so much to you. If you’re putting your worth based on what society says is beautiful, you’ll never find peace. People are difficult to please and they change their minds unexpectedly.
You are so much more than your physical body. Working out will help you lose weight and tone your muscles, but its true benefits go much deeper. Regular exercise profoundly affects your physical health, reducing your risk for chronic diseases and protecting you from stress and illness. Physical activity changes your body chemistry, boosting your mood and increasing your energy.
God designed your body to work this way. You can turn exercise into an act of worship by caring for the body and mind He’s given you. Ask Him to help you formulate exercise goals that honor Him. It’s okay if improved physical appearance is part of your goals. However, you need to check yourself if it’s your only goal.
Working Out Is Worship Too
When you put your faith in Christ, your life is joined to His. Everything you do out of love for God is an act of worship — whether washing the dishes, reading the Bible or scooping the catbox. You can turn your exercise sessions into acts of worship by allowing God’s word to reshape and redefine them.
Be thankful for the amazing body God has given you and recognize His great love for every part of you. Check your self-talk and realign your thoughts with what God says about you. Choose workout goals that reinforce these healthy thoughts about your identity and worth. Exercising can become worship when you work out from a place of love and gratitude for God’s goodness.