The “Bowflex Complex” or How Important is Appearance Anyway?

You’ve seen that TV commercial haven’t you? The one with the Bowflex guy? He’s sitting on a big black home exercise machine. Myriads of arms fan out behind it. It works by resistance. Maybe if I would just resist more food, then I wouldn’t need it at all! That doesn’t mean that if you resist using it, you will get in shape. For just $33 a month you too can have one in your home. You can’t miss this guy’s rippling muscles and well defined abdomen while he tells you about the machine. He is smiling all the while he’s generating 2 gallons of sweat. The ad finishes with this statement, “I’m forty one and I’m in the best shape of my life.” You just want to punch him in the face after that.

I am older than that and I am not in the best physical shape of my life. Most of the time I live in the “If only” club. You know — if only I was thin, I’d be happy. If only I had thick curly hair I would look so great. If only . . . (you fill in the blank). Most of us have wished that if things were just a little bit different life would be perfect.

Welcome to planet earth where life is hard! Every day is guaranteed to be a struggle! As I have graduated into middle age, my husband keeps telling me, “You’ve got to fight it with everything you’ve got.” I agree mentally. My body keeps falling behind in the program. Lately, I have set new goals: aerobic workouts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and weight/strength workouts on Tuesday and Thursday. Weekends are for relaxing. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But you know, thinking it doesn’t make it happen — progress requires consistant action.

If I look back and assess my spiritual growth, I am reasonably satisfied. I have been studying. I’m reading my Bible more so I’ve grown. The Lord is teaching me many things albeit, through struggles. Real growth comes through the hard times. That’s why Paul tells us to glory in tribulation. Think about that. We are to have joy in the difficulties in this life because it will make us more like Jesus. That’s an idea that requires a long walk in the woods and much contemplation to even begin to understand.

I read an article by a woman who was unhappy about her thighs. She realized aerobic workouts weren’t toning her muscles so she began to work out with ankle weights and hand weights. She got great results. I’ve been walking for some years now and my thighs are still the same size. I am big so they are big. Let’s get realistic about how we look and what we can accomplish.

We are overly sensitive about our appearance because of the media. Everywhere you turn, there are thin, sexy girls selling everything from appliances to clothing to automobiles. If you want to get a guy to look at an ad, put a sexy girl in it.

Whatever happened to the ideal woman you see in classical paintings? The figure was soft and round and pudgy. It was a sign of wealth to have a plump wife. My husband looks like a very wealthy man!

I have a large collection of health and diet books. Finally, a long time ago ago, I determined that I would not buy any more. The more I read the more confused I became. It seemed like each book contradicted another. Then my oldest son called. He was all excited about a book on getting in shape. The program had ennabled him and his wife to lose some weight while building lean muscle mass. “Mom, I want to send you a copy,” he said excitedly. I said I would take a look at it. It looks good. It’s reasonable. I may even try it. But I’m not buying any more diet books!

My main consolation is that I won’t be overweight in heaven. If I am, it won’t matter. The Scripture talks very little about physical exercise. Paul says But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. I Cor. 9:27 I should have control of my body and its physical condition. The trouble is that thinking and doing are two very different things. It is the mind that starts the action. It is our character that keeps us acting on what the mind knows is best.

The Bible speaks a great deal about our spiritual growth. We are admonished to pray without ceasing, search the scriptures, and meditate on God’s word. Just as our body needs food daily, we need regular helpings of scripture for our mental and spiritual health. These bodies merely house the more important part of our selves — the soul. If we spent as much time on our spiritual condition as we spend on the outer shell, think what we could accomplish for the Lord.

When Jesus looked at people, he saw them as a wonderful creation of His Father. He didn’t care if they wore clothes that were the height of fashion. They didn’t have to be squeaky clean. He didn’t require that they have a good reputation. What he did care about was their personal relationship with God. Of utmost importance was whether they were saved or not. Why don’t we see people as He did? Perhaps we are too busy looking at their outside. Emulate the Lord’s compassion. Let’s show concern for the souls of those around us.

The problem with that kind of compassion is that the majority of people that we confront are offended by our concern. Actually, an unbeliever is like a dead man if he does not have eternal life. How badly can you offend a dead man? So what if you do? We have a responsibility for souls.

Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Ezekiel 3:17-18

And don’t tell me that’s Old Testament so it doesn’t count. Every word God spoke is important and you would do well to heed it.

That verse so moved me that I wrote a letter to my parents telling them of my own repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ as my Savior. I tried to make them understand how important it was to me to know that they were true believers and would be with me in heaven. There was every possibility that it would greatly offend them. They might even cut off relations with me. I had to do it for my own peace of mind not to mention my accountability to God. They didn’t like it. I am still not certain of their spiritual condition but they didn’t disown me either. My conscience is clear.

I have written other letters like that and then never heard from the person again. It is not me who is convicting or offending them — it is God’s word. If I give it, it is up to Him and the individual involved to act on it. Believe me, if nothing is ever said, nothing will ever change. You have to take the chance. Lovingly tell people the truth. Acceptance is their responsibility.

Consider these verses:

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14

But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
1 Peter 3:4

Do like I do. Go take a very long walk. Seriously meditate on these pearls from the Lord. Walking is a great time to think and pray. It does good things for your body, too! Stop thinking about yourself so much. Fulfillment comes from helping others.

While you are walking, chew some sugarless gum. If you do this often, you are burning up 11 calories per hour. If done frequently enough, you could drop 10 pounds per year just by chewing gum! (I read this in a magazine recently.)

Then ponder this verse: He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat. Proverbs 28:25 What is on the inside — the substance of the spiritual man — really counts, not the package in which it is wrapped.


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