“What gain has the worker from his toil?”
At the end of each year, we start observing a fitness frenzy.
During the Holiday season, we naturally reflect on what was accomplished in the last year and what was left unfinished. Inevitably, fitness tends to be an area that fills most people’s New Years Resolution lists for the upcoming year.
This phenomenon repeats year after year, Holiday season after Holiday season. New goals replace old goals, and old resolution lists are forgotten or lie crumpled at the bottom of your trash bin.
Even after years of completing fitness goals, there may come a point for you where the excitement of crafting new fitness goals starts to dry.
Before long, you might start scratching your head like Solomon did in Ecclesiastes 3:9 and ask, what did I gain from that work, discipline, and effort? What were all these years of goals really for? Is fitness actually worth the labor again for next year?
What is the Goal of Body-Stewardship?
To answer these questions, we have to look at fitness through the lens of body-stewardship.
God is the Creator of all things (Genesis 1-3) and He is currently being worshipped night and day by all of heaven for being the Creator (Revelation 4:11). He is the one who knit us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13) and is the one that we present our bodies to as a form of worship (Romans 12:1-2).
Our bodies are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:19) to squander, exploit, or self-indulge, but they are for God and His glory. Our bodies are a gift from God for us to steward in a way that pleases Him. We are the blessed recipients of a gift that did not originate with us and does not ultimately belong to us.
How we use our bodies will fluctuate through different seasons of life. A 10-year old moves much differently than a 20-year old, and even more differently than a 70-year old. But body-stewardship morphs into the season you are in, and through each season, the desired goal and reward of body-stewardship remains the same:
“Well done, good and faithful servant” – Matthew 25:21
When is Body-Stewardship Complete?
But when are we finished?
Is finishing time-bound to the annual goals we set?
- Am I finished at the “T” in my SMART goal?
- Am I finished at the end of 2022?
- Am I finished at the end of 5 years?
Is finishing results-based?
- Am I finished when I drop that 20 pounds?
- Am I finished when I can see my abs?
- Am I finished when my bench press max increases by 30%?
Are we finished when we are affirmed by others?
- Am I finished when my wife is impressed by my muscular gains?
- Am I finished when friends ask me for advice on exercise?
- Am I finished when my kids start developing their own desires for body-stewardship?
These types of accomplishments are only markers along the long road of body-stewardship. These types of goals tell us we are running the right race, but they do not tell us that we have arrived at the finish line.
We are not done stewarding until the master returns to settle his business (Matthew 25:19) and when the King is ready to take an account (Hebrews 4:13). We are done stewarding our bodies at the end, when we die or when Christ returns, and when we hear the ring of “well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
Put another way, we are done stewarding our earthly bodies when we receive our resurrected ones.
Body-Stewardship and Sanctification
This long-road view on body-stewardship is part and parcel of another gradual process as a Christian – our sanctification. Through the Spirit’s empowerment, we are slowly becoming a different type of person, an ever-improving reflection of Christ in the world.
In our justification as Christians, we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8). We don’t receive heaven’s eternal reward based on our own merits but purely based on the grace provided through Christ’s death and resurrection.
But our sanctification is the daily process we are engaged in every day after salvation. It is our worthy walk (Ephesians 4:1), marked by a “putting off” of the old self (Colossians 3:5) and a “putting on” of the new self (Colossians 3:12) through the Spirit’s power (Galatians 5:16).
Like body-stewardship, sanctification does not finish either until the end, until we die or when Christ returns.
And this long road is glorious.
“As Long as They Live”
Back in Ecclesiastes, Solomon answers the “what was all that for” question in Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 –
“I perceived that there is nothing better for them to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man.”
Solomon’s conclusion was not to be discouraged that the toil and work continue on year after year. His conclusion was instead that as long as you live you are to work and be blessed by that work. Be joyful in all your work, do good in all your work, reap the rewards of work (the ability to provide sustenance in food and drink), and find satisfaction in all your work.
Each year is another opportunity to do good while you live. And as body-stewards, it is another year to live in your body for the glory of God.
The apostle Paul makes a similar conclusion in Philippians 1:21 – 22
“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.”
Every new year that God gives to you in your body is another opportunity for work and labor in all that you do. Use your body for God’s glory. If you didn’t make the progress you wanted last year, this year is another grace-filled year full of opportunities to steward your body for God’s glory. The additional year is a gift.
Don’t stop stewarding your body because the road is long, but consider the long road as all the more opportunity to serve and please God with your stewardship, until you hear:
“Well done, good and faithful servant”.
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