by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Loyal Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana for over 42 years)
Nothing happens accidentally. Discipline and character always accompany success. The same is true with physical strength and health. One does not have a strong body accidentally. To be sure, some are more gifted than others in this respect, but many strong and healthy people have dissipated their bodies, whereas many people with care and discipline have caused their bodies to outlast their expected usefulness. Remember that one serves the Lord with his body. When health is gone, usefulness is gone, then we will be of no value to God or to others. Several simple rules will help you to have a stronger body.
1. Let God have your body.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1) I was not a big boy as a child, I did not have an extremely healthy body. I did, however, take my hands and say, "God, they are Yours." I took my feet and said, "God, they are Yours." I touched my eyes and said, "God, they are Yours." I did the same thing with each member of my body. It is amazing what God can do with a little bit.
2. Dedicate your body as a temple.
"Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (I Corinthians 6:18, 19) This teaches us that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We should take the same care of the body today that the Jews did of the temple in the Old Testament. The Bible seems to imply that the body sins are the worst sins. Could this be because the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? Our bodies should be as dedicated to God and His service as were the furnishings of the Old Testament temple.
3. Keep your body clean.
Since the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, it should be kept clean both outwardly and inwardly. Regular baths should be taken. Proper deodorant should be used. Men should shave carefully. The hair should have regular care. The teeth should be kept clean. Nothing was kept more immaculately clean than the Old Testament temple. Since the body is the temple of the New Testament, it should be likewise clean. Certainly this should apply to morals. Adultery, necking, petting, and promiscuous behaving between the sexes should certainly be out as far as God's people are concerned. Keep the body clean. There is something about a clean body that God can use.
5. Keep your body straight.
It is very important that a Christian should learn how to walk properly and sit properly. No Christian should be slouchy. In our family altar we have taught our children such habits. We have had our girls to practice walking across the room. We have taught them to walk like girls and sit like girls. We have taught our boy to walk with a manly walk and sit with a manly posture. Keep the body straight. It is God's. let it be a good testimony.
6. Keep your body coordinated.
This is of vital importance. A person should know how to handle his body with dexterity and coordination. At this writing I am 41 years of age. I have played sports all of my life. I have kept my body in fairly good condition, and because of this, I was able to save my sister's life. She and I were crossing a street in South Bend, Indiana, where I was preaching in a Bible conference. A car turned left, not seeing us. I saw the car and jumped back. My sister did not see it. The car was about to hit her when I almost subconsciously grabber her and pulled her from the path of the car. It barely scraped her and knocked her to the cement, but tests for injuries proved negative. She would probably not be alive today were it not for my coordination.
My coordination also saved my own life once. In Word War II, I joined the Paratroopers. On my fifth jump the parachute did not open. I was one second from the ground when I quickly pulled my reserve chute. It opened and saved my life. Certainly a man with manly coordination can reach more men for Christ. For both men and women coordination should be a must for the body.
7. Keep the body properly fed.
Remember, food is fuel. It is tragic that we feed our dogs better than we feed our own bodies. We carefully choose the food for our pigs, horses, and cows, and then gulp down most anything for self. Proper vitamins, Bible foods, and Bible stimulants should be taken by the Christian. The Christian, of course, should not be guilty of drinking liquor, smoking, etc. I have found it helpful not even to use coffee or carbonated drinks. Why not try honey or orange juice for a stimulant?
It is also wise for a Christian to fast occasionally. Occasional fasting is certainly physically helpful to the body. Sometimes a Christian should pray and fast.
Many times I have been preaching and found myself developing a bit of voice trouble. When such times occur, a juice fast often is the answer. Much throat trouble is caused by the stomach. To say the least, a Christian should put the proper fuel in his body so that he may use it to the glory of God.
8. Keep the body rested.
It is important that the body receive the proper amount of rest. This rest should be done at regular hours if possible. Much of what is commonly called "fellowship" by preachers should be sacrificed for rest and work. I have found it wise to avoid late-hour snacks as well as late, heavy thinking. Sometimes a few exercises before going to bed are good to relax the body and make it rest better. certainly we should not develop the habits of sluggards. Yet we should realize that the body is the Lord's and needs to be rested regularly.
9. Keep the body under subjection.
Appetites are good servants but not good masters. No appetite should control the body. Let the Christian always yield to his body to Christ and be master over his own appetites.
10. Keep the body strong.
Exercise is very important to the body. I find that I can do more work when I do regular calisthenics and exercise. I find it is good to run some as well as to do calisthenics. Now there are as many suggestions for this as there are people, but I find if I run a mile or so a day and do about fifteen minutes of heavy calisthenics, my lungs are in better condition for preaching, and I have a healthier body to use for the glory of God.
With proper dedication of the body, proper cleanliness, neatness, coordination, food, rest, exercise, and control, one can live longer to the glory of God.
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“I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years.” —Billy SUNDAY