Caring for your body is crucial for any athlete. Treating your body as a temple of the Lord is critical for every person who calls themselves a Christ-follower. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to use your body in ways to worship and bring glory to God with how He’s designed you. How we eat, what we spend our time doing, how much we exercise, and how much sleep we get each night are all disciplines that are important in the eyes of God. How seriously we take these disciplines will overflow into the rest of your life.
I had never thought about what I ate until recently. As a soccer player in his 20s, I could eat anything and everything I wanted to with no regrets or side effects. But as I get older, I want to be more mindful of what I’m putting in my body. Regardless of what I eat, I never want to take my health for granted. If I’ve been able to perform well while paying no attention to what I eat, how much more potential might I have if I take good care of my diet?
God doesn’t want us to obsess over our health or fitness, but we do need to make sure we’re balancing our efforts in a way that’s honoring Him with the body He’s given us. For instance, I know that my body needs a certain amount of sleep to perform well. I need a lot of sleep. I have to make sacrifices in my life in order to get sleep because I know if I don’t, my body won’t work the way it’s supposed to. So when I go to bed at 9 o’clock each night, it means I won’t have time to watch a TV show or play a video game. But as an athlete, I’ve committed to putting those things out of my life in order to prioritize what really matters. My time away from the field is now spent with my wife, my children and God. These are the things that relax me and give me life — more so than any amount of Netflix could.
While I know I need my sleep, I need Jesus more. If I need to disrupt my sleep pattern by waking up 20 minutes earlier in order to get time in the Word with God, I will make that sacrifice without question. He is ultimately the One who gives me life, breath and the energy I need for each day. My first love is the Lord; communing with Him takes precedence over all else.
Whenever I say “yes” to something, it means I’m saying “no” to something else. Yes, Chick-Fil-A may taste great, but there are reasons that these things taste good. Is it worth putting in your body? Yes, TV shows can be harmless and fun, but is what you’re taking in more life-giving than a conversation with your wife? Or the Lord? How can we devote more of our time to the spiritual, and physical, disciplines the Lord calls us to? Fasting is often emphasized and encouraged in the Bible because it is a means of denying ourselves and our earthly pleasures in order to say “yes” to God. That is where life is found.
What creative ways can you think of to offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to the Lord?
— Ryan Hollingshead, FC Dallas midfielder/defender
Ryan Hollingshead is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing articles and opinions. Check out Ryan’s Increase profile here.
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