Getting rid of these extra pounds . . .

If you own a fitness center or weight loss clinic, right now is your favorite time of the year.

Gym memberships are up, and the treadmills will be running full speed throughout the week, and probably next week, and maybe the week after that.

And some of us will probably add to the gym population this month, because we joined thousands of other Americans in making the most popular resolution: Lose 20 pounds. Get in shape. Walk 4 days a week. Run a 5K, half marathon or (gulp) full marathon.

There’s nothing wrong with that, and I think God wants us to use the bodies He gave us to His glory.

But at the same time I hope your goals are deeper than that.

Here’s what Paul said about it:

If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe (1 Timothy 4:6-10).

I think Paul was a sports fan, by the way, something that’s suggested by how often he uses sports metaphors in his writing.

So he wasn’t against physical exercise, but he wanted to make sure Christians kept it in perspective.

Maybe that’s something we need to reflect on as we begin a new year.

Exercise is of “some value,” Paul writes, so stick to your resolution. Lose 20 pounds. Go to the gym 4 days a week. Eat right.

You’ll feel better and look better, and you’ll probably be able to use your body in ways that more clearly glorify the Lord.

But wouldn’t it be sad to get in great physical shape and go nowhere spiritually?

What if you lose the extra weight, but hang on to the spiritual baggage that’s holding you back?

What if you develop impressive physical endurance, but keep falling to the same sins as before?

I hope 2012 is a great year for you in every way: physically, relationally, emotionally, but especially spiritually.

Only godliness is of value “in every way” and “holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

About a year from now we’ll reflect back on this year . . . let’s commit right now to drawing closer to God so that we’ll be excited then to think about all the good God has done in us spiritually this year.