What is a Christian view of bodybuilding / weightlifting?
Physical training, such as running, weightlifting, exercise regimens, and bodybuilding, is addressed in 1 Timothy 4:8, but only to compare it with training in godliness. Paul writes to Timothy that physical training has "some value" but godliness "is of value in every way."
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Nothing in Scripture addresses bodybuilding or weightlifting specifically. First Corinthians 6:20 tells us to "glorify God in your body." Seeking to stay healthy and keep in reasonably good shape can be part of this, and bodybuilding or weightlifting may play a role in so doing. However, when we elevate our physical training above the strengthening of our relationship with God, we are out of balance. Anything that we focus on in place of God, we idolize (1 John 5:21). Like other hobbies and endeavors, bodybuilding and weightlifting can become addictive and/or become the focus of our own identity.
Paul writes that he elevated his relationship with Jesus above everything in his life, and that his relationship with Jesus would serve as the focus of his other relationships. "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). We should do the same.
When we spend time building bigger and stronger muscles, we need to examine our motives. Are we doing so for our own glory (1 Samuel 16:7; Ecclesiastes 1:2) or for the glory of God? "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).
With any pursuit, we must seek God's guidance and ask Him for wisdom (James 1:5). We can also take 1 Corinthians 6:12 as our guide: "'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful for me,' but I will not be dominated by anything." First Corinthians 10:23 similarly says, "'All things are lawful,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful,' but not all things build up."
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