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Take the Gospel to the Gym

If you’re on social media at all, you’ve surely come across an image of a

Victoria’s Secretesque model accompanied by a quote like, “Nothing

tastes as good as skinny feels.”

At first blush, it’s easy to dismiss the images as nothing more than a

motivational poster, but Fitspo (fitness inspiration) and its cousin Thinspo have

caused quite a bit of concern on the World Wide Web, and for good reason. For

many, social media channels have become convening platforms to share tips and

motivation for sustaining eating disorders. In response to that perilous trend,

Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest made policies to

ban images that promote self-harm.

While that action is commendable, I fear the ongoing dissemination of

sensual, hard bodies and get-your-butt-off-the-couch quotes subtly damage even those

not suffering from eating disorders. In fact, the images perpetuated online

often have less to do with health and more to do with sensuality and a drive

for perfection our culture deems desirable.

I know we have an epidemic of obesity in our country and that we are called

to be good stewards of our bodies, but I’m concerned that we are consuming the

wrong inspiration without even a second thought. Scantily clad models online

should not be the standard by which we measure our worth or inspire our health.

To adopt those standards would be nothing more than bondage.

So what is a Christian woman to do at the start of a new year with health

and fitness goals at the top of her resolution list?

1. Take the Gospel with you.

I spent years believing a lie that if only I was strong enough, disciplined

enough, self-controlled enough, I could have the body of Giselle Bundchen.

Anything but perfection would be failure. I fear too many of us have bought

that lie as well. How can we be grace-proclaiming people while demanding

perfection in our bodies?

The truth is even when I reach every fitness goal I set, my body will be

mine — airbrush-free and imperfectly mine. I must have grace for that. Friends,

of all the things we take with us to the gym, let’s not forget to take the

Gospel with us.

2. Make it about virtue.

When I read blogger Kristen Howerton’s piece on what

fit looks like, I had to come to terms with the fact that good nutrition

and physical activity must be rewards in and of themselves. Sure, there will be

physical and emotional benefits to getting in shape, but perfection a-la

Pinterest is not guaranteed. What is guaranteed is improved health, stamina,

active adventures, increased self-control and discipline that will benefit me

even when the scale doesn’t budge.

 3. Find value in what

is lasting.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the

LORD is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

This verse is so refreshingly realistic. Bodies are important. God fashioned

them (Psalm 139:19), His

Spirit dwells in them (1 Corinthians 6:19), as

His children He made us of body, mind and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23),

but our bodies are fading (2 Corinthians 4:16). Our

culture fights the realities of muffin-tops and wrinkles with boot camps and BOTOX,

but in the end, true beauty isn’t informed by your jean size, but in your heart

toward the Lord.

4. Find healthy role models.

Instead of idolizing Kate Moss, let’s find godly role models who are

pursuing health as a matter of good stewardship and not pride or insecurity.

Learn from women who have made nutrition and fitness a practical reality in

their homes and with their families. Be courageous and ask them to teach you,

and join them in these endeavors. These kinds of women have done more for me in

working toward victory in my health than any skinny post online.

5. Think before you post.

Are your fitness posts linking to anything beneficial? The Internet is

filled with wonderful resources like workout videos, nutritious recipes,

creative fitness routines, etc. If your posts are nothing more than a wish list

of tiny waists and chiseled abs, you may want to evaluate your motives for

health. Purpose to post images and tips that are helpful and encouraging,

instead of images that only echo guilt and shame or further the comparison game

we are prone to play when looking at svelte celebrities.

6. Let the Lord redefine your


For years we’ve blamed the media for promoting unrealistic standards for

women, but online mediums like Pinterest and Tumblr are evidence that we have

now adopted those images as our standards. We desperately need our mind to be

renewed by the Word of God and prayer. Condemnation is not of the Lord (Romans

8:1). Remember that He sees you as the righteousness of Christ, without

blemish (1 Corinthians 5:21).

Listen to His voice. It delights in you (Zephaniah 3:17) and then be


As we pursue health goals this year, let’s prioritize spending time at Jesus’

feet and let Him show us what He calls beautiful. Let’s be redemptive in our

pursuit of good health and be mindful of the “inspiration” we consume.

And again, let’s not forget to preach the Gospel of Christ’s grace to

ourselves, even as we Zumba.


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