FIT FOR WHAT? by Raphael ben Levi
“For though physical exercise does have some value, godliness is valuable for everything, since it holds promise both for the present life and for the life to come.” (1Tim 4:8)
Some people enjoy engaging in different forms of physical exercise at various levels and others do it solely for health reasons. There is no shortage of professionals who clamour to offer us their unique advice in this area – at a price. The annual turnover for this runs into several billions of dollars.
The apostle Paul provides Timothy with an analogy of comparison. In Hebrew, it is known as ‘Kal v’chomer (Light and heavy judgments) regularly used in Jewish law. Kal v’chomer takes a relatively minor example (in this case, physical health) and compares it to something of much greater significance. (our spiritual well being)
Paul’s words could be loosely paraphrased: “If in general people spent as much time on their spiritual health as they did with their physical well-being, they would be in far better shape!”
Since our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, we would be wise to pay due regard to both our physical and spiritual health for each has its place in our service and ministry unto God. Whether it be sports, professional careers, ministry or other legitimate pursuits, we should always remember where our first priority lies. This is nicely illustrated with the following Chasidic story.
Once, as the rabbi was walking down the street amiably greeting the passersby, he noticed that among the crowds was a member of his synagogue who was trying to push his way through the throngs with single-minded determination. As he passed by Rabbi Levi Yitzhak, he murmured a greeting and pushed on ahead as though his whole life depended upon it. The rabbi turned and shouted out to him, “Why are you in such a rush? Where are you going?” The man turned round to face the rabbi. “I am trying to pursue my living and do not have time to be interrupted!” Rabbi Levi Yitzhak responded compassionately, “How do you know that your living is not behind you, trying to catch up?”